Let’s Blame the Victims!

The "worm has turned" in the national media.  Reporters in the field in New Orleans and Mississippi are visibly and audibly enraged at the tragedy and destruction of what is before them.  The anger filling all but the most abject media servants of the prevailing incompetence is most impressive.

Nevertheless, the bureaucracy and the ruling politicians are still doing everything they can to "spin" the situation in the way that commanders do in "after action reports" to make themselves look as good as they can manage in the face of evidence of their incompetence, neglect or cowardice.

Their remaining allies in the media are still at it.  On a national news show this Sunday morning  two participants known for their close government relations, both from the national media, did their best to "blame the victims."  From discussions here in Washington it is clear to me that the "talking points" went out last night to the faithful.

What was said?  In response to a discussion of government failure, indifference and incompetence as a source of the protracted suffereing of the people of New Orleans, both of these people implied that it was the "backwardness" and "social injustice" of society in these states that formed the background and root cause for what has happened.

Some addtitional "talking points" evident today were:

-No one could have known.  (That one isn’t selling well)

-We have to MOVE ON.  We have the people’s work to do!!  It wil be time enough later…  (Is Bill advising these guys?)

We have seen a lot of cynical, methodical manipulation of public opinion in recent years.  Some of this has been the fruit of the emergence of a "doctrine" of deliberate "Information Operations."  Falsehood or distortion injected into the "public mind" has become a routine of government.  In addition, some of the management of information has been accomplished through the simple mechanism of threatening and intimidating media executives (overtly or implicitly) with denial of access to sources of information. 

Not surprisingly, those implicated in the guilt over this present catastrophe are fighting back.

Two reporters from Fox News have publicly raged against what they saw in New Orleans.  (See Below) The anchor talking to them did everything but disown them.  Everywhere the government is defending itself as best it can by blaming state government, by blaming local government.

Now they are going to blame the people of Louisiana and Mississippi.

Pat Lang

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15 Responses to Let’s Blame the Victims!

  1. Minnesotachuck says:

    Your blog is a real service to the country. Thanks. By the way, a few links to some of the more egregious examples of sppinning in your post would have been helpful.

  2. Some Guy says:

    Josh Marshall at TPM Cafe has started a thread on the spin coming form the White House, asking for people to provide relevant links and e-documents to check the facts versus the spin.
    Also, I heard on CBS’s Sunday Morning today that teh winds never topped 100 mph in New Orleans, the real force striking Missippi, such that the storm NO faced was a CATEGORY TWO. That would fall below the Corps specs for the levee LtG Strock is claiming were met.
    If true, the Corps could be in for an even more serious investigation that it seems right now.

  3. Pat Lang says:

    Hey Chuck,
    I will try to do that in future.
    I was thinking of Nora O’Donnell and David Brooks on Matthew’s Show Today.
    She said that “after all, the percentage of children who live in poverty in Mississippi is over 50%.” That explained the disaster to her. The mere fact that MS has been pretty much a model of civilized behavior in this emergency did not “do it” for her.
    Brooks brought up the Mississippi flood of 1927 as an example of the social disorder typical of the area. He mentioned that blacks “were kept in concentration camps and forced to work on the levees” in 1927 as an example of what could be expected, etc..
    Tony Blankley on McLaughlin’s program, after being fairly reasonable, evidently remembered that he hadn’t spoken up and so opined that “you can’t blame Bush for all the race problems of New Orleans.”
    Look up the transcripts if you wish. Pat

  4. Some Guy says:

    I saw on Kevin Drum a comment from a reader on Laura Rozen. The reader (a Dutch man) said Germany’s ZDF reported that Bush photo-ops just left behind the people after the photo-op was done. That brought me to tears so I asked a friend fluent in German (lived there for years and worked for Volkswagen advertising), to check out ZDF’s reporting and translate any key passages that would refute or confirm Rozen’s Dutch reader. My friend found this:
    Räumarbeiten nur für Bush?
    “Wo der US-Präsident das Katastrophengebiet besuchte, räumten Hilfstrupps vorher ordentlich auf – aber nur dort. Aus Biloxi zitierte ZDF-Korrespondentin Claudia Rüggeberg verzweifelte Einwohner, Bush solle in seinen Limousinen statt lauter Bodyguards und Assistenten lieber Hilfsgüter herbeischaffen.
    Entlang seiner Route hätte Räumtrupps vor Bushs Besuch Schutt weggeräumt und Leichen geborgen. Dann sei Bush wieder abgereist ‘und mit ihm’, so Rüggeberg, ‘die ganzen Hilfstrupps’. An der Lage in Biloxi habe sich sonst nichts verändert, es fehle an allem.”
    “With the US president visiting the catastrophe region, troups cleaned up prior to his visit, but only in this area. Claudia Rueggeberg, ZDF correspondant quoted desperate residents in Biloxi who stated that Bush should have brought basic goods rather than bodyguards and assistants in his limousines.
    Along the route of his trip, clean-up crews (troops) cleared the area of wreckage and removed corpses before Bush’s visit. Then, Bush left once again, ‘and with him,’ according to Rueggeberg, ‘the clean-up troops.’ Otherwise, nothing in Biloxi changed – people were in need of everything.”
    So it is not exactly what Rozen’s reader described but it is pretty f***ing awful. My translator did this quickly so any German speakers will likely find the translation loose.
    The ultimate bubble. He can see no corpses and literally, when he drives away people are left to fend for themselves.
    Am I the only one whose jaw is getting sore from being clenched?

  5. bkny says:

    col lang,
    aaron broussard, president of jefferson parish was on meet the press this morning and made a comment that i wondered if you have any insight to. why would fema cut communications lines:
    “Let me give you just three quick examples. We had Wal-Mart deliver three trucks of water, trailer trucks of water. FEMA turned them back. They said we didn’t need them. This was a week ago. FEMA–we had 1,000 gallons of diesel fuel on a Coast Guard vessel docked in my parish. The Coast Guard said, “Come get the fuel right away.” When we got there with our trucks, they got a word. “FEMA says don’t give you the fuel.” Yesterday–yesterday–FEMA comes in and cuts all of our emergency communication lines. They cut them without notice. Our sheriff, Harry Lee, goes back in, he reconnects the line. He posts armed guards on our line and says, “No one is getting near these lines.” Sheriff Harry Lee said that if America–American government would have responded like Wal-Mart has responded, we wouldn’t be in this crisis.”
    let me also take the opportunity to thank you for what you do. your no bullshit approach is deeply appreciated. thanks,

  6. Pat Lang says:

    Yes. I saw it. Incomprensible to me.
    You have to love this guy. He isn’t the usual uptight ass.

  7. Pat Lang says:

    I just don’t know. Pat

  8. There are many parallels and links between this and Iraq. Start with the fact that Joe Allsbaugh stepped down as FEMA director in 2003 in order to start a firm New Bridge Strategies, which had a subsidiary, Diligence Iraq, with people lurking around Baghdad, claiming to be CPA staffers as they pressed claims of foreign corporate clients against a supine Iraq.
    Then there is the whole Information Operations thing the Colonel mentioned. The “green room” in the palace was filled with GOP activists who were really campaign staffers there to push happy horseshit to local US media. Meanwhile, the really needed IO, to the Iraqi people, was neglected for months, one reason for the insurgency, IMO. We didn’t talk to the Iraqis in any meaningful way, explain our aims and plans.
    Then there is the lack of action on urgent matters because of lack of resources/poor planning. Large ammo dumps in Iraq were left unguarded for months. When the story broke about Al Qaqaa, the truth – that it was only the tip of an iceberg – was not only not revealed, but spun out of existence.

  9. Rose says:

    Dear Sir:
    I value your insight as well as the posters’ comments on your page. We have to keep the truth out front and pressure Congress to do a truthful investigation.

  10. J says:

    With the large amount of loss of life, one would ‘think’ anyways that the Congress would ‘put off’ the Roberts hearings until New Orleans has had a chance to bury their dead. It’s the least the Congress could do, would you not think?
    Has Bush put the U.S. flag at half-staff yet to honor our fallen fellow citizens in New Orleans and the entire gulf coast? Will Bush declare a national day of mourning once the dead are buried?

  11. Pat Lang says:

    For sure.

  12. b says:

    Upthread on the German news reports on the staged Bush tour to Biloxi:
    I have documented and translated two of the reports:
    I am German, so the translation is not to my mother language as it is suppose to be, but it’s good enough.
    Those German TV reports come from very reliable, independent stations/channels with independent, professional, experienced reporters on the ground in Biloxi. They are documented on video and in writing.
    The Bush show in Biloxi was staged by taking away assets that would have been needed to save people elsewhere.

  13. Pat Lang says:

    That sounds about right from what I have learned.
    and then there is the matter of domestic Information Operations. pl

  14. angela says:

    Possinly 700 dead at the superdome alone, people dying at the astrodome.
    OK I don’t know about military organization, but it seems to me in the days before modern communication the officers who got the applause were the ones who threw themselves at the problem. It seems to me on Tuesday the president could have said to every command in the US if you have resources that could be useful get them moving, we’ll pick up the details as they come together, this is like you know man like war like the Germans breaking through the Bulge. I think you’d have had the first land units from California there yesterday because they’d be driving 24 hours with states cops in every state clearing the way.
    And when people heard those sirens their hearts would swell.
    People talk about prepositioning and logistics. But I think within ten hours of the trouble areas you’ve probably got 40 or 50 million people. And just taking ten or twenty percent of what they have availible in their stores and direction fuel and food trucks and trucks carrying water into the vicinity youu could get lots of prepositioning. People calling up trucking firms, scheduling trucks and getting them to every equipment rental place in the vicinity for generators etc.
    We have the commercial infrastructure and I bet thousands of small boats are availible in the region. Just open the credit lines, VIsa and others can approve an account number in hours.
    And beyond that people want to give.
    People talk about command and control, but a lot of our military prides itself on decentralized structure where low level commanders make decisions. So maybe you’re trying to move helocopters from Alaska or Canada. Most of our airports have fuel, the airlines have mechanics trained by the military, the major in charge might have to move in parts and more mechanics, but he and lots of others now have thousands of commercial planes because it should have been clear Tuesady night if we have them.
    Going back to the example of war before fast communications there are theories on “swarm” warfare. Nowadays every police eepartment has technology we didn’t have in desert storm, the mayor in Baton Rouge can say on a security web page I need fifty cops and cops coming from chicago can say we’ll fill the request. You can puit things together spontaneously.
    And I believe the American people know how. If a military pilot says he or she doesn’t mind going into a place where someone is taking potshots let them. If a search an drescue team which has been in hairy laces before says they’ll beave the loooters because they do it better than old ladies. Just get there firstest with the mostest. And when the point comes you have too much we’ll be needing it in Baton Rouge and Houston then beyond it.
    If the coastguard says we have a thousand gallons of diesal and the first responders in New Orleans say they want it, then Fema shouldn’t say no because it fails to follow channels.
    Don’t talk about waste to me because if you were letting low grade officers and non comes and the thousands of fBI agents and all the others coming in sign blank checks aalong the way to pick up hundreds of flashlights or whateve because they might get ripped off, but I bet in lots of cases they’d get the stuff below cost.
    And any money lost from not following rules is probably going to look small becaus e we’ve ddicated 10 billion and from what I’ve heard 4 billion is already allocated to Halliburton.

  15. J says:

    the june 3 2004 press release from IEM Inc where it stated it received a FEMA contract for developing catastrophic hurricane disaster plan for n.o. and sela. the IEM press release stated that among its team partners was Witt the former FEMA head. IEM Inc. apparently used Witt’s good name as a ‘buy in’ ploy to lock in the FEMA contract. it’s is very fishy that IEM Inc. press release was sent out ‘before’ the FEMA contract was actually awarded. also something even more fishy — once IEM Inc began the contract, they stopped using Witt’s name, and it appears that IEM Inc didn’t pay Witt any thing.
    Witt is now acting as ‘pro bono’ advisor for LA Gov. Blanco. Witt is doing a public service for the citizens of LA on his own dime!

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