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Jan 31 2014

The Atlanta blame game

An amazingly universal phenomenon strikes politicians of all stripes whenever they are caught flat-footed and unprepared by a storm. See, they couldn’t prevent the storm, so why is the public all bitchy about it? An equally plausible explanation for what happened in Georgia this week is a raging case of right-wing Deficit Obsession Syndrome; the irrational fear that government may have to spend taxpayer money to protect and serve taxpayers. Time to scapegoat gubmint weather scientists!

Georgia Governor Nathan Deal threw the National Weather Service under the bus — but his statement shows a complete misunderstanding of the role of the NWS forecasters and the role of emergency decision-makers, including himself. The meteorologists make the weather forecasts, the emergency managers and decision-makers at cities, counties, states, and school boards are supposed to understand the impact of the weather, direct the government response, and communicate recommended actions to the public. Shockingly, the governor and the Atlanta mayor didn’t see that as their responsibility. This is distressingly similar to Hurricane Sandy, of course. A major city, along with the state in this case, in spite of direct communications with the National Weather Service, is unable to put the pieces together to understand the RISK to their citizens.

With all due respect to those of you who suffered in Georgia this week, in my book the undisputed king of this blame-shifting, evasive genre is Michael Chertoff. In 2005, the Secretary of Homeland Security actually implied with a straight face on live TV, multiple times across major networks, that one reason his department dropped the ball during Katrina was due to a purported, never identified newspaper headline he read the next morning saying NOLA may have dodged a bullet.

In another interview that same day, a reporter must have asked him what paper he had read that in. That’s when pre-claiming he couldn’t remember the name of the paper became an instant part of his spiel thus sealing in the verdict of intentional mendacity, even as thousands of people fought for their lives in the ravaged city, and many were losing that battle.

4 comments

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  1. 1
    brucegee1962

    Here is a very thorough breakdown from Politico of exactly where the actual problem lies:

    http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2014/01/atlanta-snow-storm-102839.html#.Uuu6IU2A2BF

  2. 2
    Scr... Archivist

    brucegee1962 @1,
    Thanks for that link. It was very interesting, but I’d be surprised if there are enough people who will listen and re-build the region.

  3. 3
    busterggi

    Response plans for terroist attacks and natural disasters, including weather related, have been federally required on local, county and state levels since shortly after 9/11. Of course most are just untested doodles on paper and many don’t exist at all but then neither does enforcement of the requirement so it all evens out.

  4. 4
    StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return!

    @ ^ bustergii : I think by “evens out” you mean fails miserably yes?

    Stephen “DarkSyde” Andrew :

    An amazingly universal phenomenon strikes politicians of all stripes whenever they are caught flat-footed and unprepared by a storm. See, they couldn’t prevent the storm, so why is the public all bitchy about it?

    Perhaps because whilst no one expects them to prevent a storm having a policy to deal with predictable consequences of one is another matter entirely?

    An equally plausible explanation for what happened in Georgia this week is a raging case of right-wing Deficit Obsession Syndrome; the irrational fear that government may have to spend taxpayer money to protect and serve taxpayers.

    This exactly! So much this! Governments are supposed to provide aid and look after their citizens. That’s why there are taxes. Is that truism really not obvious and basic to everyone?

    Time to scapegoat gubmint weather scientists!

    Its never time for that. Although politicians certainly find it convenient to do so just as they find it convenient to accuse scientists of ridiculous conspiracies when they publish evidence and reason based papers pointing out the reality of Human-Induced Rapid Global Overheating.

    Does this sort of scapegoating really work for them or anyone? Is it not really easily seen through? Does it help in any way?

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