David Roberts

David Roberts

Energy, politics, and more

David Roberts is a staff writer for Grist. You can subscribe to his RSS feed or follow him on Twitter or email him at droberts at grist dot org, if you're into that sort of thing.

Katrina and compassion

In which your author finally breaks down

This (via Tapped) nails, like nothing else I've read, why I take Bush's reaction to Katrina personally. And it's not just Bush, it's Brown, Chertoff, any number of politicians, a substantial portion of the commentariat. Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Penn.) said that those who stayed (got stuck) behind in New Orleans should be punished:There may be a need to look at tougher penalties on those who decide to ride it out and understand that there are consequences to not leaving.I don't really consider myself a bleeding heart, but for god's sake, thousands of our fellow citizens are sitting in their own filth, old people and babies, dying of sickness, dehydration, illness, suicide ... Why isn't everyone, at every level of government, in a fucking panic about this? Where's the humanity? How can I be a part of the same species as these people? I just don't get it. Time for me to take a valium and stop reading the news.

Compare and contrast

Quotes on Katrina

Michael Brown, director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency: "Unfortunately, [the death toll]'s going to be attributable a lot to people who did not heed the advance warnings," Brown told CNN. "I don't make judgments about why people chose not to leave but, you know, there was a mandatory evacuation of New Orleans," he said. Michael Chertoff, secretary of Homeland Security: Some people chose not to obey [the evacuation order]. That was a mistake on their part. Bill O'Reilly, conservative talkshow host on FOX News: Moral of the story: People were warned to get out. Those who stayed paid a price for that decision. If you rely on the government, you're likely to be disappointed. No government can protect you or provide for you. You have to do it yourself. Barack Obama, Senator from Illinois: And so I hope that out of this crisis we all begin to reflect - Democrat and Republican - on not only our individual responsibilities to ourselves and our families, but to our mutual responsibilities to our fellow Americans. I hope we realize that the people of New Orleans weren't just abandoned during the Hurricane. They were abandoned long ago - to murder and mayhem in their streets; to substandard schools; to dilapidated housing; to inadequate health care; to a pervasive sense of hopelessness. That is the deeper shame of this past week - that it has taken a crisis like this one to awaken us to the great divide that continues to fester in our midst. That's what all Americans are truly ashamed about, and the fact that we're ashamed about it is a good sign. The fact that all of us - black, white, rich, poor, Republican, Democrat - don't like to see such a reflection of this country we love, tells me that the American people have better instincts and a broader heart than our current politics would indicate. (first three via American Progress)

New blog

The Environmental and Urban Economics blog (found via MoJo) has a series of extremely thought-provoking posts on Katrina, local investment, and risk assessment.

Good looting and bad looting

I can't put it any better than Think Progress.

Pope on Katrina

Sierra Club exec. director Carl Pope writes an alternate history of the last two weeks -- what could have been. But it wasn't:Incompetence? Oh yes. But this was not garden-variety incompetence -- good intentions gone awry. This was the toxic harvest of a strategically and intentionally planted seed -- a set of reactionary beliefs to which our nation's leaders have become addicted. Namely: Prudence is for wimps, protecting our communities is morally corrosive, after-the-fact spin can substitute for planning, and the poor and powerless deserve whatever the fates -- or our bureaucracies -- hand to them. It has turned out that when you try, as conservative-activist Grover Norquist said, "to reduce government to the size that you can drown it in a bathtub," it is not just government that drowns. It is the people.

Katrina links II

More than you wanted to know about the hurricane aftermath

I suppose I should probably blog about something else at some point, but I can't stop reading about the aftermath of Katrina. It's making me sick to my stomach -- the incompetence, the callousness, the racism. It's a national humiliation, the fallout of which will be with us for decades. Unlike the response to 9/11, about which we are so eager to gush -- oh, the heroism! the unity! -- here we want viscerally to turn away because our own pathologies have been revealed, and those pathologies don't sit well with the American triumphalism currently in vogue. As you can see, I have nothing but bile and sorrow to add to the conversation. So here are some more reading and listening materials, if you can stand it (sorry, I've lost track of where I found many of them, so the attribution is spotty):