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Not certain what to

Not certain what to make of this -- but it's an interview with a local mortuary director in the Shelbyville (Tenn.) Times-Gazette. The mortician, Dan Buckner, is part of DMORT (Disaster Mortuary Operational Response Team), which is a volunteer wing of the Department of Homeland Security called in to set up morgues and process bodies in major domestic disasters. And he's been deployed to Gulfport, Miss. Bucker tells the paper that "DMort is telling us to expect up to 40,000 bodies." And he goes on to say that that number does not "include the number of disinterred remains that have been displaced from ... mausoleums."

(ed.note: A note of thanks, if that's the word, to TPM Reader EO for the sobering tip.)

On the Al Franken

On the Al Franken show this afternoon I mentioned this article from today's Salt Lake Tribune which tells the story of about a thousand firefighters from around the country who volunteered to serve in the Katrina devastation areas. But when they arrived in Atlanta to be shipped out to various disaster zones in the region, they found out that they were going to be used as FEMA community relations specialists. And they were to spend a day in Atlanta getting training on community relations, sexual harassment awareness, et al. This of course while life and death situations were still the order of the day along a whole stretch of the Gulf Coast.

It's an article you've really got a to read to appreciate the full measure of folly and surreality.

But the graf at the end of the piece really puts everything in perspective, and gives some sense what the Bush administration really has in mind when it talks about a crisis. The paper reports that one team finally was sent to the region ...

As specific orders began arriving to the firefighters in Atlanta, a team of 50 Monday morning quickly was ushered onto a flight headed for Louisiana. The crew's first assignment: to stand beside President Bush as he tours devastated areas.

You can't make this stuff up.

We know from National

We know from National Hurricane Center Director Max Mayfield that FEMA Director Brown and DHS Secretary Chertoff both received electronic briefings on Katrina's likely destructive potential before the storm hit. A knowledgable source suggests asking who else listened in on those pre-landfall briefings.

AP Bush to lead

AP: Bush to lead investigation into his own failure ...

Buffeted by criticism over the federal response to Hurricane Katrina, President Bush said Tuesday he will oversee an investigation into what went wrong and why — in part to be sure the country could withstand more storms or attack.

Bush also announced he is sending Vice President Dick Cheney to the Gulf Coast region on Thursday to help determine whether the government is doing all that it can.

"Bureaucracy is not going to stand in the way of getting the job done for the people," the president said after a meeting at the White House with his Cabinet on storm recovery efforts.

"What I intend to do is lead an investigation to find out what went right and what went wrong," Bush said. "We still live in an unsettled world. We want to make sure we can respond properly if there is a WMD (weapons of mass destruction) attack or another major storm."


TPM Reader GJ checks

TPM Reader GJ checks in ...

Lot of talk going around this town this morning that Pres Bush and the head of the National Weather Service both called Mayor Nagin in advance of the storm to tell him to get off his butt and call in the Guard. They found him at home. I don’t know where this came from, haven’t seen it myself. Sounds like the slime machine. Have you seen any such report?

Bush called Nagin?

An exchange with a

An exchange with a reader ...

TPM Reader JS: "Conservative colleague of mine chortling this morning: said he heard on Imus this AM that the reason the poor didn't evacuate from New Orleans before the storm is because they were waiting for their welfare checks. If true, about on par with Barbara Bush. Can it be confirmed?"

TPM: "I think this may be an extremely disfigured version of some factual information. the storm hit on the 29th. people on public assistance get their checks on the first of the month. so there is a lot of anecdotal information that quite a few people who live from check to check had no cash on hand by the end of the month and thus had no money to leave town. so, i guess one could say they "were waitng for their welfare checks" but [that] leaves a rather misleading impression."

AFP Sept. 2nd 2005

AFP, Sept. 2nd, 2005: "[Sen.]Vitter, speaking to reporters at the emergency response center in Baton Rouge, also said he gave the federal government a grade 'F' for its response to the disaster so far."

CNN, Sept. 5th, 2005 ...

Anderson Cooper: Senator, on Friday, you gave the federal government an "F" for their efforts. What grade do you gave them right now.

SEN. DAVID VITTER (R), LOUISIANA: Yeah, first of all, Friday, I gave all of the organized government relief effort an "F," state and federal. I think it's turned a corner, in fact, it began to turn later that day, Friday, when it essentially became an unprecedented military operation, not only National Guard, but major active duty military.

Rep. Boustany (R-LA) got the memo too.

No correction or retraction

No correction or retraction yet from Newsweek on the Blanco/State of Emergency error, it seems. And no explanation from the Post about whether their version of the canard was the product of an error on the part of their reporter or, as seems more likely, a deliberate piece of misinformation they passed on from a high-level White House source without verifying it first.