Was Broussard Telling the Truth?

I’m almost embarrassed to admit it, but I find myself wondering if Jefferson Parish President Aaron Broussard’s story about the dying mother was truthful. That is, I know that many thousands of people (probably many tens of thousands, though official estimates have not climbed that high as of this point) have died in the disaster, and if his story isn’t specifically true, it’s certainly well-demonstrated that the relief operation has seen widespread bungling and delays, and that many, many people’s mothers must have died as a result.

But as I watch Broussard’s performance on Meet the Press, I find myself wondering if what I’m seeing is a performance, in the sense of being good old-fashioned snake-oil politics. I mean, was his tearful story scrupulously accurate? Or was it maybe based on a true story, but embellished for effect? Or was it an out-and-out fiction? I confess that when I first viewed it I was moved to tears; his sudden anguish, the raised pitch of his voice, the repeated promises to the stricken mother (“Yeah, Momma, somebody’s coming to get you. Somebody’s coming to get you on Tuesday. Somebody’s coming to get you on Wednesday…”) It’s very powerful stuff. Even with my current doubts, I still get misty-eyed watching it.

But I can’t help wondering. Watching the whole interview, if one assumes that Broussard was telling a carefully crafted story designed to elicit emotion and control the course of the interview, it was a masterful job. He basically took over Russert’s program and made the segment into a powerful symbol of FEMA ineptitude. The pacing of what he talked about seemed well-designed to build to that heart-wrenching climax. And the story itself is somewhat lacking in detail; no specific name of the “guy who runs this building I’m in, Emergency Management, he’s responsible for everything.” There is a mention of the “St. Bernard nursing home” (is that a town? or a specific institution?), but again, it seems like it might be tough to actually verify what he said as truthful, based on the information given.

In the larger sense, it doesn’t really matter. I’m not trying to say that the story, if fictional, in any way lessens the very real human suffering that has taken place. And again, I have absolutely no evidence that the story is fake. But I confess to being curious about the extent to which my emotions in watching that segment were being consciously manipulated for political effect, and if they were, the extent to which the underlying story was accurate or invented. And if it turned out that Broussard actually was lying when he told that story, it would tend to undercut the credibility of the remarks he made earlier in the interview about the problems he witnessed with the FEMA response.

Anyway, if anyone has any information on Broussard’s background and track-record in terms of honesty, or on the specifics of this particular story, I’d be interested in seeing it. Thanks.

36 Responses to “Was Broussard Telling the Truth?”

  1. ymatt Says:

    I dunno, I didn’t particularly see reason to believe this might be fake. I mean if it was … total asshole.

    It seems reasonable that the local and state guys were mostly complacent about any real disaster planning — I mean Louisiana is pretty famous for corrupt government, isn’t it? If they really were serious about avoiding predicted-levee-break disaster, they would have had a plan to have a fleet of evacuation busses ready before the storm hit. But I’m sure that guy’s anguish is real and there is still a clear, in my mind, issue of piss poor federal preparedness and responsiveness that tragically multiplied the problem at the local/state level.

    I predict the local/state government pointing fingers at the federal government for failure to fund levee reinforcement and gutting of FEMA — and the federal government pointing fingers at the local/state government for having no clear plan for short-term evacuation, rescue, and aid. And they’ll both be right. And somehow neither will actually take any blame.

  2. Craig Says:

    I’ve seen nothing concrete to disprove Broussard’s story, or question his credibility. One blogger has noted that he is very familiar with the city corruption and questionable ethics that seemingly abound down there, and that the story seems strange since the waters stopped rising by midweek and the implication of the story is that the mother died by drowning in ever rising floodwaters on Friday.

    And it has also been pointed out that there WAS indeed a city evacuation plan that gave the Mayor power to authorize evacuations and to implement the Plan which included the use of all the city’s municipal and school buses for transportation out of the city. Those buses, in the hundreds, have been photographed still sitting in their flooded compounds. There have been newspaper articles posted from when Ivan passed close by last year, that tell of the evacuations done in New Orleans at that time. There are direct quotes from people in the same poorer areas of town who stated afterwards that despite the order to leave being made, that they had no transportation to get out, and they asked, why doesn’t the city provide a way out in such times for people without options?

    So, what would have been better? Getting thousands of people out of harm’s way via the buses referred to in the city’s own evacuation plan, or fishing surviving people out of flooded neighborhoods days after the flooding?

    Listen, I fully understand that there are lots of blame to go around during huge government/bureuacracy screwups like this, and Bush and his appointee’s have to take their share, whether they want to or not. But this maniacal focus on pinning everything but the kitchen sink on the Federal-level’s mistakes is letting some very guilty and incompetent people slide off the hook who were FIRST in line to do all the right things to save lives. I fully support any investigation into this tradgedy, as I feel certain that it will shine a bright light on some very nervous officials down South.

  3. jbc Says:

    But this maniacal focus on pinning everything but the kitchen sink on the Federal-level’s mistakes is letting some very guilty and incompetent people slide off the hook who were FIRST in line to do all the right things to save lives.

    Whose maniacal focus is that? I’ve been talking a lot about Bush here, but I haven’t said he’s the only one responsible.

  4. Rise Against Says:

    The old fella seems pretty sincere to me, too. I admit that I have been throwing a lot of blame at Bush in particular, but only because right off the bat people were trying to push the blame down the levels of government.

    Which to me makes no sense, thats why federal governments are supposed to exist, to handle federal emergencies. To try to put most of the blame on state/local governements is wrong. If is up to state/local governemnt to manage tragic disasters such as this, then why even have FEMA? Almost 40% of nat’l guard units and equipment from the affected area are in Iraq, is that the mayor of NO’s fault? Disasters that spread over state lines require the leadership and coordination of the federal government, and they seemed to have failed on all fronts. That’s not to say there wasn’t failure from state/local government, as I’m sure there was. But I don’t think it was nearly as evident as the failure of the federal response.

  5. Craig Says:

    I am mainly referring to the left side of the Blogosphere in general, who seem to have taken any and all “Bush” angles imaginable from nearly the beginning, rather than discussing the failures at many levels for this disaster. Which leads me to believe that political ax-grinding is taking precedence over uncovering all the ways in which people in leadership positions failed the population of the affected Gulf Coast area. John, you have mentioned within the text of your postings that you understand that “others” are also to blame, but yet nearly all your postings seem to focus on Bush and his Administration’s real and assumed failures in this tragedy. Obviously, it’s your Blog so you can frame things any way you wish.

    Rise Against, its VERY fair to put significant blame on local/state level if it is evident. As I stated above, they are the FIRST line of protection and support for taking care of their population. Especially in the critical days and hours before the hurricane. The Mayor had a complete disaster plan IN PLACE and yet failed to implement critical parts of it that impacted the most needy of his citizens. And he had plenty of time to do so, in the relative context of an impending disaster.

    Let me also add that in last year’s Ivan evacuation, the mayor allowed some people to stay in the Superdome but he stressed afterwards that it was not intended to be used as an approved shelter, since he had designated very specific locations around the city as official shelters. Yet right after Katrina struck, the Mayor was encouraging those still in the city to go to the Superdome (knowing its limitations). Why did he ignore the City’s plan in so many ways? If the Superdome was looked at as unsuitable shelter in terms of the established Plan, why was it the focus of his public messages right from the beginning? Since the Plan was to have involved an assumption of flooding, one must believe that the approved shelters were on higher ground and would have basic necessities available. If not, who wrote and approved a fraudulent and unworkable plan on the people who entrusted them for their protection? And what about the other questions I mentioned in my earlier comment? There should have NEVER been so many people left to fend for themselves when the flooding began. And this doesn’t even get into any of the Governor’s likely culpability in the matter.

    It’s okay to actually focus appropriate blame on ALL those who deserve it. I doubt anyone will pull your anti-Bush membership card for seeking the full truth behind this horrific event.

  6. jbc Says:


    Yeah, in looking back over what I’ve chosen to post about, I have been harping on Bush a great deal. Other people certainly screwed up, too, and if I were trying to give a balanced, thorough account of everything that has gone wrong, I would have talked more about the city and state’s failures in terms of planning for the disaster and dealing with it as it unfolded and afterwards.

    In terms of what this site is actually “about,” I don’t really claim to be doing anything in my postings other than passing on things that seem noteworthy to me. I tend to be a serial obsessive: Something grabs my attention, I fixate on it for a few days, and then lose interest and move on. Sometimes it’s something I wouldn’t have expected (Winona Ryder’s clothing choices at her shoplifting trial?), other times it’s pretty easily predictable (picking apart in excruciating detail the ways in which Bush has screwed something up, and is trying to shift blame for his portion of the screwup to someone else).

    To the extent there’s an overarching theme to what I consider suitable for posting on the site, it’s high-profile falsehood. People (especially famous and/or powerful people) trying to sell a false-to-fact version of reality. The bigger the lie, the more interesting it is to me.

    What interests me here is not so much the fact that Bush screwed up the Katrina aftermath. It’s that the screwup provides another example of his essential dishonesty, his repeated efforts to deny his poor performance, or, failing that, to deflect blame for the failure onto others.

    Yeah, Nagin’s and Blanco’s screwups are part of that story, too, and if I were trying to offer an objective account of what had gone wrong I’d be highlighting those parts of the story more.

    On some level I’d hope that some of the other people to whom I’ve given posting power on the site (including yourself) would supply some of my own deficiencies by posting their own examples of noteworthy cases of falsehood. But that may not be realistic. In the meantime, I appreciate your willingness to contribute via the comments.

  7. openended Says:

    New Orleans as far as big cites go, I would say is in the top 5 if not the top two as far as potential natural disaster areas. At some point, and it looks like people have stopped and said “wow we are very prone to hurricanes and very serious potential flooding, oh and we have more poor people then most other major cities in the united states.” Bussing 60 to 80 thousand poor people out of a city in 48 hours is a task, and giving the frequency of hurricanes they would need to prepare to maybe do this up to 3 times a year (a lot can change in 48 hours). Who makes the call on that and when and why would be interesting.

    Ok so my point is, if they look at the situation and figure it may be hard to bus everyone out, that any place they are going to consider holding large numbers of people, needs to be 1) hurricane proof 2) very big 3) have a supply warehouse always stocked with water and non perishables and meds attached to this structure 4) won’t be prone to flooding 5) needs to be enough onsite police, and medical workers to deal with the max planned capacity of these major metro temp shelters 6) should be enough food and resources to last 5 days.

    one problem will come up, who gets bussed out, and when the storm gets close making the call to get people to the major shelters instead, and making sure its done in an orderly way. Bussing 80,000 people out in traffic is something that will need to be practiced, there is no way in hell anyone can tell how that would work. Because something like that just can’t be done on paper.

    This has been written about, and movies made of this situation. I’m curious to see how the local government there had in mind for such a disaster, or even one of half its impact.

    It seems the government has been out cutting the lawn for the last 5 years and its wife has been dying inside the house and not cleaning anything up. And from what I’ve read it looks like the ball has been dropped over the last 40 years as well. The gov saw that city as a hopeless project, and figured everyone is poor there and dumb enough to live below sea level, and its one of the more morally corrupt cities. So it was a lost cause. Legalistically and Culturally.

  8. trg34221 Says:

    On the St. Bernard/Katrina Log of Events since August 27, 2005 it reports on 09/01/05 at 2:30 A.M. – “Casualties have allegedly been reported (not yet confirmed) at the St. Rita’s Nursing Home.” This is a full 48 hours before the dramatic reference to a (Friday evening) late rescue.


    This article from the Dallas Morning News reveals the death of 30 people in a St. Bernard Parish Nursing Home it was published at 12:15 a.m. on Friday 9/02/05 at least 24 hours before Mr. Broussard says help didn’t come. In addition most news reports stated that water has been reseeding since the initial flooding. So how did a nursing home resident, who according to Mr. Broussard, survive the Hurricane drown four days latter?

    ‘This is a desperate SOS’ Mayor begs for help; governor warns looters Guard will shoot 12:15 AM CDT on Friday, September 2, 2005
    By LEE HANCOCK and MICHAEL GRABELL / The Dallas Morning News

    30 nursing home deaths

    Louisiana Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu, who has been working with search and rescue, confirmed that 30 people died at a nursing home in St. Bernard Parish and 30 others were being evacuated. He did not give any further details.


    Other article confirms 35 deaths at a nursing home in St. Bernard Parrish. Interesting the St. Bernard president reveals all those who died at the nursing home were on the first floor and were not evacuated. It also implied the death occurred days before if not during the Hurricane and it certainly doesn’t characterized this as something that just happened (Friday night) after several desperate attempts to rescue them.

    Officials believe that 35 senior citizens died when they drowned on the first floor of a nursing home. The residents ignored an evacuation order, Mr. Rodriguez said.


    This article is another confirmation of 31 deaths at a St. Bernard Parish nursing home. Interesting the St Bernard Parish president Mr. Rodriguez along with a sheriff and fire chief found the nursing home resident again no dramatic reference to this occurring (Friday evening) after several desperate attempt to rescue them.

    East of New Orleans, Heavy Damage, Lost Lives and Pleas for Help
    By SEWELL CHAN and JEREMY ALFORD Published: September 4, 2005
    St. Bernard Parish, just to the east of New Orleans and surrounded by water.

    According to the three men who run the parish – the parish president, the sheriff and the fire chief, who said they saw it themselves – hundreds of residents were killed, including 31 found in a nursing home. Officials said there were 65 residents at the nursing home, St. Rita’s, but they could not say how some of them survived while others perished.


    Here is the MSNBC follow up story on Aaron Broussard striking absent is the dramatic part when “mom” called her son everyday for four days all the reader is left with is one paragraph that says, “The man he was talking about is Thomas Rodrigue, who told ‘Dateline’ that his 92-year-old mother was one of 32 elderly people found dead at the St. Rita’s nursing home.”


  9. ragmop Says:

    I spent very little time and was able to confirm that this story is legit. (See link: http://www.newsday.com/news/nationworld/nation/ny-usmain054412664sep05,0,6433008.story?coll=ny-nationalnews-headlines).

    It was St. Rita’s Nursing Home in St. Bernard Parish. Evidently 31 senior citizens died or drowned while awaiting help from others.

    I guess I never thought to question the veracity of the story. Broussard’s emotion was as raw and as genuine as I have ever seen. Chalk it up to my 42 years experience. My gut told me that those emotions could not be faked. For the love of God, he was sobbing uncontrollably on national TV and had spittle flying from his mouth as he spoke. I am a cynic, but I got my limits on doubting the veracity of someone’s statements.

  10. Craig Says:

    I must correct an earlier statement I made about the specific mention of buses for evacuation. Only the Southeast Louisiana Evacuation Plan (which includes New Orleans) directly mentioned the use of municipal and school buses for evacuation purposes, not the seperate plan for New Orleans itself. However, the City plan does state that:

    “The City of New Orleans will utilize all available resources to quickly and safely evacuate threatened areas. Those evacuated will be directed to temporary sheltering and feeding facilities as needed. When specific routes of progress are required, evacuees will be directed to those routes. Special arrangements will be made to evacuate persons unable to transport themselves or who require specific life saving assistance. Additional personnel will be recruited to assist in evacuation procedures as needed. ”

    Since the wider-area Plan specifies the approved use of buses for those parishes within their Plan, one can logically assume that such vehicles are among the “available resources”, and those “unable to transport themselves” would certainly include those poorer citizens without their own cars.

    Plus, the Ivan evacuation plainly demonstrated the limited options of the poorer population, and both the Governor and the Mayor agreed that the current Plan needed improvements.

    Yet hundreds of buses are sitting waterlogged and useless at their various terminals, which could have, even if they made only one run to get the most exposed people out, moved about 15,000 people.

  11. trg34221 Says:

    The facts are in:

    President Aaron Broussard on meet the press said, “The guy who runs this building I’m in, emergency management, he’s responsible for everything. His mother was trapped in St. Bernard nursing home and every day she called him and said, “Are you coming, son? Is somebody coming?” And he said, “Yeah, Mama, somebody’s coming to get you. Somebody’s coming to get you on Tuesday. Somebody’s coming to get you on Wednesday. Somebody’s coming to get you on Thursday. Somebody’s coming to get you on Friday.” And she drowned Friday night. She drowned Friday night.

    As this follow up story today in the New York Times says

    In Nursing Home, a Fight Lost to Rising Waters
    Published: September 7, 2005

    St. Bernard Parish officials say that 32 of the home’s roughly 60 residents died on Aug. 29, more than a week ago.


    So now the question goes directly to Mr Broussard how did “mama” call, on Tuesday, call on Wednesday, call on Thursday and call on Friday and then drown on Friday night when sad as this whole tragedy is “mama” God bless her soul died on Monday night.

    Never mined Mr. Broussard’s tragic, calculated and heartless act to just make up a story about “mama” calling her son for four days knowing full well it never happen shows the greater tragedy in America today. It is the extend to which people will go to shift any and all blame from themselves to its the other guys fault i.e. the federal government more specifically in this case to the President himself.

  12. Sven Says:

    Before the hurricane struck, where was Louisiana suppose to take these 15,000 people, homeless and with no money? They couldn’t just set up a tent city on the edge of the state somewhere. As friendly as Houston has been since Katrina, I doubt they, or any other state, would have accepted all these evacuees beforehand.

    It’s a nice idea, that probably should have been put into place somehow. But the Republicans who want to use it to blame the local governament haven’t thought it through completely. I don’t see any place Louisiana could have taken them without cooperation on a Federal level.

  13. Rise Against Says:

    I just find it hard to blame the local officials too much considering they were out their first, even though their families and lives were destroyed, they were the first and only people on the seen for many days. I think the appointment of an unexperienced person to head FEMA caused most of this. And we all know who appointed him.

  14. Craig Says:

    It’s the City’s OWN PLAN that assures that the resources and mechanisms were in place to move those without means or in flood-prone areas in the city to shelters presumably on higher ground and away from storm surge areas. Are you saying that a city’s own approved plan, whose basic critical elements are not followed at the time of the emergency, and which also had some unrealistic expectations built into it, can’t be used to put significant blame on the local authorities? If they knew the Plan was unworkable, why are they purposely and callously endangering the lives of those they are charged with serving and protecting?

    People, as much as you’d like to blame Bush for the rising and setting of the sun, reality shows that there was a ripple effect of poor planning and execution here that convicts ALL levels of government in various degrees. Sven, I’m sure the Mayor would love to see you on the investigative committee to increase his chances of slithering off the hook of responsibility. He and his government will prove to be as guilty as anyone else of needless deaths. Oprah is going to get a real buzzkill when it is shown how culpable her Mayor buddy really is (a clip of his “woe is me and my city” display on her show was nauseating).

    You can take some solace in the fact that there will be plenty of errors left over for your “blame Bush” fix.

  15. Rise Against Says:

    Bush leading the investigation into his own governemnt’s mishandling of this crisis is sure to be accurate, I’m sure.

    What really gets me as that even Bush himself has stated that the federal response “was unaccpetable”, yet his backers won’t hear any of it.

    To me, what it really boils down to is, who cut the funding for these levee projects, meant to protect New Orleans from such a disister?

  16. openended Says:

    At some point I heard a former head person of the army core eng. talk about funding has pretty much been cut for the last 40 years. And that some major levee project on the national level hasn’t even been finished yet in all of that time. Point is our country is so weak at the border is so many ways. All it takes are the weakest points to get hit, and a lot of people to be at those points. Republications would like to think some how corporate America will protect us from mother nature and terrorism on a national level. The US is just turning into a soup that has way to much shit in it, and in turn has now been left out in the cold.

  17. Steve Says:

    Imagine that you are this guy. Your coworker talks to his elderly mother before the hurricane hits. You both assume that your government is trustworthy and that she’ll be evacuated.

    Once the hurricane hits, you have your hands full, and you continue to trust that FEMA will rescue his grandmother. You trust FEMA on Tuesday, you trust FEMA on Wednesday, you trust FEMA on Thursday, you continue to believe that FEMA is going to rescue your friend’s grandmother (who you still believe is alive) until you get the call that let’s you know that she’s dead.

    Your immediate thought would be that she would have lived if FEMA had been faster.

    The basic facts of this story add up. Mr. Broussard’s coworker’s mother died in a nursing home, even while both of them believed she would be rescued. The rescuers were inexcusably late.

    The only myth in his story is the understandable longing they had for this woman to be rescued. He didn’t hearlessly invent this story. He related a fully understandable and believable myth, in the midst of heartrending circumstances, that illustrated a profound truth about the situation.

  18. openended Says:

    Do they have cell phone, or lan line service in that area? I’m still curious how they had consistent communication. when no one else seemed to.

    His mom it turns out doesn’t even live in that state, when she talked about drowning – it had to do with your typical old person / bath tub scenario.

    Also how many black bodies does it take to plug up a leeve?

    Thank you and good night.

  19. Rise Against Says:

    The only people that seemed to not have any type of communication were the people in charge of this mess. All the news outlets seemed to be communicating just fine.

    I’m not even going to touch your black bodies comment. You should be ashamed of yourself.

  20. trg34221 Says:

    Steve I would like to say your statement is not very creditable on several levels. The most glaring is Mr. Broussard’ said this man’s “mama” called that is what made the story so compelling so heart wrenching. Therefore the basic facts of this story do not add up.

    Finally what about all those first responder who after watching Mr. Broussard’s story felt deeply hurt that they let him down that while they were ask to go to this Nursing Home by local officials for four days in a row and never went…. Take some time to imgaine the pain and second guessing those brave men and women went through and are in fact still going through just to learn OOPS it never happen.

  21. ethan-p Says:

    To me, what it really boils down to is, who cut the funding for these levee projects, meant to protect New Orleans from such a disister?

    Rise Against, I see what you’re insinuating — and this has been a rallying cry for the left wing as of late. I do not believe that it was Bush who cut the funding. Presidents don’t create budgets — that’s the job of Congress. All a president can do is sign a budget, or veto it. What Bush did was ask congress to show restraint in their spending (particularly in the highway bill).

    The reason why a president issues guidelines for budget creation is because it takes a long time, and alot of negotiating to create a bill…including gobs of bork barrel spending, which is what most of the politicing is over. (There’s enough pork-barrel spending to make you physically ill…it’s dirty shit.) In any case, congress doesn’t want to issue a budget to the president twice, because it takes a huge amount of politicing just to get a fiscal budget through the mess of congress…so they tend to take the president’s guidelines seriously. Conversely, a president doesn’t want to veto a bill over something like a study of a levee system in a poor-ass city. Little stuff slips like that tends to through the cracks, welcome to America.

    On a federal level, as much as I would like to blame this thing on Bush, it’s just not his fault. We can link things to Bush, such as having a large percentage of our national guard overseas to wage an elective war, but this is not the same as direct responsibility.

  22. Sven Says:

    Craig: I’m quite aware that our government has failed at probably every level in this tragedy. I’m sure there is more than an equal share of blame for the mayor. I don’t really know much about him myself to bother defending him. I have heard Hannity and others try to point to the buses, and use that seemingly to excuse our federal govenment of any responsibilities.

    It’s definately a good point. They should have had a plan to bus out as many people as they could. I’m simply asking, that as the mayor, where was he suppose to send the buses? Without a destination, there is really no point in loading up the buses. If the buses were part of the evacuation plan, where were they to take the evacuees? I haven’t heard an answer for that one.

  23. Craig Says:

    There are plenty of blogs out there that link to the city’s disaster plan as it relates to hurricanes. There were a number of designated shelters listed in it. One would assume that those were for those who had no personal transporation out of the city. The plan also said the city would use all its resources to move people out of flood-prone or surge-prone areas. Since I’m unfamiliar with the area, I will make a reasonable assumption that those shelters are in areas above sea level within the city. However, I’m also going to guess that those shelters (mostly schools) would not hold 60,000 people or so. But, at minimum, the people are physically removed from the most deadly parts of the city.

    Now, did the mayor and his cronies ever expect or actively plan for having enough manpower to drive the buses or prepare the shelters as the critical hours ticked away? If not, then why not? Or was this plan simply a mandatory document that the city had to have on file to show that they were indeed prepared. “See our pretty plan?” But in their darkest hearts, they knew they had no intention of enforcing it. But they let their most helpless population sleep blissfully unaware each night that their government would knowingly abandon them to the their fates if the worse scenerio occurred. Oh, the hints were there, like in the Ivan evacuation, in which no city efforts were made to transport them out. But the mayor said that improvements would need to be made to the evacuation process. So the band played on. Until last week.

    The first line of defense and protection for those with no margin of error for survival in an emgergency, failed its people miserably. For that crime, the mayor and his associates must be held directly accountable. Period.

  24. Rise Against Says:

    Okay Craig,

    But lets go back to the original posting of this matter. Tuesday, we saw all over the television cops, firefighters, the mayor, all out on the streets trying to help people even as their own families were killed/stranded. Then on that same day, we see Bush trying to play a guitar and having a good ole time. Theress no doubt the local officials failed in some aspects, but not nearly as miserable as the federal governement.

    Like I said before, if you’re satisifed at the federal government and FEMA’s response for a disaster they knew was coming, you hold your government to frightening low expectations. And thats not good for anybody. Period.

  25. Rise Against Says:

    Ethan – You’re right about the budget. But doesn’t the republican controlled congress build its budget around the presidents priorities/agenda? Which in this case wasn’t about investing in America, but rather waging elective wars and giving tax cuts to the rich.

  26. Steve Says:

    I have no doubt that “mama” called before Katrina hit.

  27. ethan-p Says:

    Rise Against – Yep, the elective war was bullshit. I believe this and haven’t excused anyone for it. However, ‘Republican controlled Congress’ in this case, is sort of misleading. How big is the margin of control in the Senate? 2 senators? What about in the house? I forgot and am not gonna look it up, but come on, it’s a thin margin. Are you really going to blame the Republicans for everything that goes wrong? The Democrats are just as twisted as the Republicans, they just spout slightly different rhetoric.

    Do they all budget around Bush’s agenda? I don’t think that they do beyond what they have to (and the Democrats have to vote to fund things like his war too…if they don’t, they’re badged as anti-troops). You’re right, however, it is pretty political, which is disturbing. IMO, the really evil stuff is the prok barrel spending, which is self serving, and usually a way for congresscritters to pay back their constituents for things like compaign contributions.

    As far as the ‘tax cuts to the rich’ go…that’s another bunch of leftist crap. Have you heard of the Alternative Minimum Tax? (AKA AMT) This is what the rich pay, and Bush’s tax cuts don’t touch the AMT. Interestingly enough, tax law has been slow to change in order to account for inflation. Now, some dual income families who would otherwise be considered middle class are also paying the AMT. The ‘tax cuts for the rich’ is another anti-Bush rallying cry which really doesn’t amount to much in the real world.

    Wow, definding Bush (on any level) feels pretty sinister. I suppose it comes down to what I’ve been saying all along: If you want to damn the Bush administration, damn them for what they really are. There’s plenty to choose from.

  28. Rise Against Says:

    Ya, word up. Thanks Ethan.

  29. Craig Says:

    Rise, maybe, since you’re from Canada, its just that you don’t fully understand the way America’s levels of government work. The Feds just don’t just take over local and state matters whenever they feel like it. Especially in this scenario. There is a protocol to how levels of government work together in emergency situations like this. The local government was the first and most immediate line of protection for its New Orleans citizens. That’s why they had an approved, formal emergency plan that detailed evacuation procedures and approved shelters. They either ignored critical parts of the plan, decided that they couldn’t actually implement it, or developed a plan that they knew in advance was unworkable, yet assured the public that they had a process in place to move and shelter people adequately. Its insane that this joke of a mayor was screaming for buses to be sent down for evacuating people when he left hundreds of his own buses in city compounds to be rendered useless! And, in an indictment of the leadership of the city government in general, about 500 of the total 1600 city police officers left the city as Katrina struck and have not returned. Basically abandoned their jobs!

    If you want to rant about Bush and FEMA and their failings, have no fear. Their part in this ripple effect will be evident. But if you want to have a serious discussion about how things fell apart, you’ll have to recognise the significant incompetence that occurred at a critical time before, and right after the hurricane, at the local and even State level that needlessly cost many lives.

    Its ironic that I, as a Right-leaning Conservative voice on this blog, am actually the one who is arguing on holding the government officials most directly involved in an unnessary screw-up of decision-making that has cost thousands of innocent lives, while some of the more liberal readers are intent on giving those same officials lame excuses and minimal accountability!

  30. Craig Says:

    My first sentence in the last paragraph of my post above should have read, “arguing on holding accountable the government officials”.

  31. Rise Against Says:

    I’ve never once said that the local/state officials didn’t have any failures in this mess.

    I just go by what I see, and what I saw was local officials “in the trenches” and Bush playing guitar, and the head of FEMA on TV saying he didn’t know anybody was at the convention center even though for 3 days on the news we all seen them. I don’t know how a local force could cope with a disaster of this magnitude on its own, but they did it, heroically for days while the feds were nowhere to be seen.

    No amount of spin will change what I saw.

  32. trg34221 Says:

    Lets review the question here is was Aaron Broussard Telling the Truth? Its not about Canada’s response…. Its not about tax cuts… Its not about pork barrel spending. Its not about the Alternative Minimum Tax? Its not about how republican controlled congress….

    As this New York Times article proves, “mama” died on Aug 29…..

    St. Bernard Parish officials say that 32 of the home’s roughly 60 residents died on Aug. 29, more than a week ago.


    So now the question goes directly to Mr Broussard how did “mama” call, on Tuesday, call on Wednesday, call on Thursday and call on Friday and then drown on Friday night when sad as this whole tragedy is “mama” God bless her soul died on Monday night.

    The issue here is Mr. Broussard’s tragic, calculated and heartless act to just make up a story about “mama” calling her son for four days knowing full well it never happen shows the greater tragedy in America today. It is the extend to which people will go to shift any and all blame from themselves to its the other guys fault i.e. the federal government more specifically in this case to the President himself.

  33. jbc Says:

    Well, as I posted in the item about this today, and as I elaborated in a comment at:


    I think there actually are three possibilities at this point:

    * The news accounts are inaccurate. Either Rodrigue isn’t the person Broussard was talking about, Rodrigue’s mother was not one of the 32 who died at St. Rita’s on Monday, or at least one of those 32 (Rodrigue’s mother) died later.

    * Broussard was honestly mistaken: He either misunderstood the account of what happened with Rodrigue’s mother, was intentionally or unintentionally misled about it, or simply forgot the details or mixed them up with some other story, perhaps due to the massive amounts of stress he’d been under in the time leading up to the Meet the Press interview.

    * Broussard was intentionally lying when he made his statement on Meet the Press, “sexing up” the story for maximum effect by embellishing it with a false chronology that changes the death of the mother from being primarily the fault of local authorities who failed to evacuate her before the flooding, to being the fault of federal authorities who were slow to respond in the initial days after the flooding.

    Based on the available information I consider the last possibility the most likely, but that doesn’t “prove” that it’s correct. And even if it is correct, I disagree with your characterization of Broussard’s act as representing the “greater tragedy in America today.” I think it would more-accurately be described as someone willing to use any means at his disposal, including embellishing what is, in broad terms, a true story (the guy’s mother apparently did die in the nursing home, and the federal response to the disaster was excruciatingly slow and inept), in order to make the most of his 6 minutes with Tim Russert and the TV cameras to try to put pressure on the federal officials to stop farting around and get some disaster relief down there.

    Now, you may prefer to interpret his action as being based on a desire to avoid accountability, and to blame the feds for his own local government screwups, and I guess I’d accept that there’s probably at least some of that going on, too. It’s kind of hard for me to tell from here, though, how much his action was based on the nobler motivation (putting pressure on the federal authorities to make them do their job) and how much it was based on the less-noble motivation (covering his own ass and blaming others for his own mistakes). Since both motivations would have tended to push him in the same direction, trying to distinguish between them may be a useless exercise.

    But making a big deal out of what he did, and trying to claim that it’s somehow more of a tragedy than the larger tragedy represented by the disaster itself, strikes me as silly.

  34. Craig Says:

    Rise, no one is asking you to believe spin, just some of the facts that are floating around out there outside of your personal “cone of silence” for anything that isn’t anti-Bush! If you define incompetence in this tragedy by what “you see”, which seems highlighted by a guitar-pickin’ President at a photo-op and an inane comment from a FEMA Director who is out of his depth, then your looking at the issue with one eye closed. Which means limited vision and no depth. Who were these city officials in the trenches, saving lives? Maybe the remnants of a police department in which 30% turned tail and ran when the storm hit and never came back? But then, I wouldn’t call the police force “officials”. Surely you don’t mean the collection of city figureheads huddled together in those press conferences, lead by Mayor Ray “oops I did it” Nagin? The Mayor whose dress rehersal evacuation during Ivan showed so many forboding flaws in the Evacuation Plan that he could do no better than repeat them when the real thing hit town, with deadly results. I saw the Coast Guard doing yeoman’s work in initially saving hundreds of people, but, again, they aren’t “officials”. The thugs ruled the night and “the trenches”, not any officials.

    I’m not going to repeat all of my earlier points regarding the failures of the local and state leaders and why those points are important. If you didn’t believe them then, you still won’t now. As discombobulated as FEMA seems (or is), they are NOT EVER considered to be the FIRST responders to a disaster. Still, they will likely be found appropriately guilty of poor timing and ineffectiveness, magnified by weak leadership, understaffing, and poor communications. This reflects directly on Bush, as he appointed questionable people in key roles. As I’ve said, guilt will be found at ALL levels.

    No one can expect perfect execution of even the best thought-out strategy in a major city. But people deserved better than a local leadership who tossed aside an approved plan of action and essentially shouted ‘EVERYBODY GET OUT NOW’ and then got busy assessing blame on everyone else’s actions and playing the race card shamelessly.

    I only hope that when the heat does get raised on him, that the Mayor doesn’t continue to play the race card by proclaiming, “The Republicans want to pin the blame on one of the few African-American Mayor’s of a major city. Racism!!

  35. trg34221 Says:

    I think it’s pretty clear now that Aaron Broussard was intentionally lying to shift blame from local officicals to the FEMA and I think it puts into question all of his complants about FEMA. Clearly as this transcript shows an interview with the victim’s son and his how his desperate calls were all directed before the Hurricane struck knowing if they were not evacuated there was no chance. He even contacted the St. Bernard sheriff to see if they would force the Nursing Home to evacuate and even that wasn’t done.


    COOPER: One of the grimmest numbers from yesterday was this: More than 30 bodies found inside a nursing home in St. Bernard Parish. Why weren’t these people evacuated before the storm struck? That is a question that is both glaring and tonight remains unanswered.

    Here’s CNN’s Susan Candiotti.

    (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) Dated 09/08/05

    SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tom Rodrigue is living a nightmare. He knew his 92-year-old mother, Eva, was in deep trouble. And he was helpless to get her out of harm’s way.

    TOM RODRIGUE, VICTIM’S SON: We’ve had numerous storms before, and they know that, if they evacuate, she needs to go with them.

    CANDIOTTI: His mother, Eva Rodrigue lived, and apparently died, with more than 30 others in St. Rita’s Nursing Home, which was flooded after Katrina swept into New Orleans. Some were evacuated, but many were not moved to safety in time and drowned.

    RODRIGUE: She didn’t have Alzheimer’s. She knew who people was. She remembered things. And she could still get around on a walker. So she wasn’t an invalid, you know? So she could move around.

    CANDIOTTI: Tom Rodrigue, himself a former emergency management director for Louisiana’s National Guard, was out of town when Katrina turned toward New Orleans. He started calling the nursing home Saturday, urging that it be evacuated.

    RODRIGUE: You know, they indicated they were not going to leave. CANDIOTTI: Sunday night, as Katrina struck, Rodrigue was 30 miles away directing emergency personnel for Jefferson Parish. He called the nursing home in St. Bernard Parish again, pleading with officials to get the residents out. He was told they were going to try.

    RODRIGUE: I called the St. Bernard officials again and, you know, told them that, you know, they’ve got to get, you know, these people out. And they said they notified them, and that they weren’t — they refused to leave. And I said, “Well, you need to send the sheriff’s office down there and make them leave.” And he said, “I’m doing everything I can.”

    CANDIOTTI: On Wednesday, 10 days after Katrina struck, authorities began removing bodies from St. Rita’s Nursing Home. Eva Rodrigue’s remains have not yet been found.

    CNN has been so far unable to reach the nursing home owners to find out whether they had an evacuation plan and if the workers did all they could to clear the place out. CNN reviewed St. Rita’s records on the state’s web site. It indicates the home’s license expired last July, but we couldn’t reach state authorities to confirm that.

    For Tom Rodrigue, the pain is overwhelming.

    RODRIGUE: She may not have been able to withstand the ordeal, even if they would have rescued her. But she deserved the chance, you know, to be rescued, instead of having to drown like a rat.

    CANDIOTTI: Susan Candiotti, CNN, New Orleans.


    The video is available on CNN video it called Nursing Home Deaths. The transcript of this video on is from Arron Browns show at the very end.


  36. trg34221 Says:

    Here is another story of Aaron Broussard that is falling apart: He said, “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.”

    This person called Wal-Mart’s public relations office (479-273-4314) to ask them for comment. Wal-Mart’s Sharon Weber returned the call she said Wal-Mart that last week, FEMA diverted those water trucks to “another location, which [FEMA] felt was in greater need than where they were headed.” Weber emphasized that Wal-Mart would not override any FEMA decisions made in emergency situations. So Broussard, who claimed that Wal-Mart’s aid was outright rejected, was wrong. Based on Wal-Mart’s information, their trucks were taken where FEMA thought they were needed most.

    The next question here is where is the press do they just take stories like this at face value with no objective checking of the facts?


    Here is something else that caught my ear that I didn’t pick up on at first… Is Mr. Broussard and leading Democrats working off talking points?

    More quotes from the Meet the Press outburst

    MR. RUSSERT: Mr. President…

    MR. BROUSSARD: (crying) Nobody’s coming to get us. (crying) Nobody’s coming to get us. The secretary has promised. Everybody’s promised. They’ve had press conferences. I’m sick of the press conferences. For God sakes, shut up and send us somebody.

    MR. RUSSERT: Just take a pause, Mr. President. While you gather yourself in your very emotional times, I understand, let me go to Governor Haley Barbour of Mississippi.

    Now back to Mr. New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin on Thursday who said in his radio interview.

    WWL: We’ll do that. What else can we do?

    NAGIN: Organize people to write letters and make calls to their congressmen, to the president, to the governor. Flood their doggone offices with requests to do something. This is ridiculous.

    I don’t want to see anybody do anymore goddamn press conferences. Put a moratorium on press conferences. Don’t do another press conference until the resources are in this city. And then come down to this city and stand with us when there are military trucks and troops that we can’t even count.

    Seem like a pair of Democrats are working off the same talking points stop the press conferences.

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