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Round 1. EvilBat v. Tuning Spork: There Goes the Neighborhood

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posted on Aug, 7 2007 @ 01:09 AM
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The topic for this debate is "The effects of Hurricane Katrina on the Ninth Ward of New Orleans were severely worsened by a government conspiracy".

EvilBat will be arguing the pro position and will open the debate.
Tuning Spork will argue the con position.

Each debater will have one opening statement each. This will be followed by 3 alternating replies each. There will then be one closing statement each and no rebuttal.


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posted on Aug, 7 2007 @ 08:46 PM
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The effects of hurricane Katrina on the north ward of New Orleans were severely worsened by a government conspiracy, one I would call “A Conspiracy of Neglect”.


The Army Corps of Engineers authority over river works in the United States began with its fortification of New Orleans in 1812.


During the American Civil War the New Orleans quite a few levees were destroyed to aid in military activity. Since the people couldn't pay for the repairs themselves the delta was overflowed almost every year. Until 1866 when a State Board of Levee Commissioners took over. Then another flooding happened in 1867 after which a State Board of Public works took over the job of rebuilding the levees and yet it was never finished.

Another flood happened in 1871.


In 1958 a project was started called Mississippi River Gulf Outlet (MRGO).

MRGO is a 60 mile 500 ft wide 36ft deep shipping channel going from the Louisiana coast to the Industrial Canal in New Orleans. It was completed in 1968. The benefit of this MRGO would be that the St. Bernard parish would have more growth, ships, docks, wharves, business and prosperity for a mere $95 million.


The bad part was that in 1965, hurricane Betsy came through raising the levels of the MRGO. The levees broke and water went into the lower 9th ward. It also causes 35 acres a year to disappear from the wetlands.


In time there were occurrences of subsidence of the levees. They were patched up with the porous soil dredged from the river to save money even though the civil engineers recommended to use a less porous soil.


The people of New Orleans have asked the Corps numerous times to fix the levees. Every year repair was held back due to “lack of funding”.. At the time of hurricane Katrina the levees should have been at a hight of 17ft but some were to be found at 6.6ft. That 6.6 ft would not hold back a category 1 hurricane. That is why I am saying yes, it is a Conspiracy of Neglect.



posted on Aug, 7 2007 @ 10:19 PM
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There's an old riddle that I recall from my childhood that went something like this:

There's a town where each and every man's beard is shaved by the barber. The barber in this town is clean-shaven. Who shaves the barber?

The answer was: "she doesn't shave".

But what if I insisted that the barber was, in fact, a man? Then what we have is a paradox; two truths that cannot logically be reconciled. And the world of logic and mathematics, that paradox would be regarded as a proof that no such town exists.

Why am I kicking off my rebuttal to EvilBat's opening statement with this old brain-teaser? Because EvilBat has essentially made my point for me by introducing a paradoxical euphemism: "a conspriacy of neglect". Can there be such a thing as a "conspiracy of neglect"?

Let have a look at how the American Heritage Dictionary defines the word conspiracy.

1. An agreement to perform together an illegal, wrongful, or subversive act.
2. A group of conspirators.
3. Law An agreement between two or more persons to commit a crime or accomplish a legal purpose through illegal action.
4. A joining or acting together, as if by sinister design: a conspiracy of wind and tide that devastated coastal areas.

Other than the metaphorical usage that is #4, it is clear that a conspiracy, by definition, is a deliberate action to commit a crime.

Now let's look at the American Heritage Dictionary's entry regarding neglect.

Trans. verb:
1. To pay little or no attention to; fail to heed; disregard: neglected their warnings.
2. To fail to care for or attend to properly: neglects her appearance.
3. To fail to do or carry out, as through carelessness or oversight: neglected to return the call.
Noun:
1. The act or an instance of neglecting something.
2. The state of being neglected.
3. Habitual lack of care.

While a defining characteristic of a conspiracy is deliberate action, the defining characteristic of neglect is inaction through carelessness or oversight.

The phrase "a conspiracy of neglect", therefore is a contradiction in terms -- an oxymoron -- and just as much of a paradox as is a clean-shaven man who never shaves.

So, what of a real goverment conspiracy to destroy New Orleans' 9th Ward, or to sit back and allow it to happen? Well, as my esteemed opponent seems to have conceded, there was none. But there sure was a heap of neglect in the decades leading up to Hurricane Katrina's landfall, and incompetence in the days before and after Katrina.

Mayor Ray Nagin certainly demonstrated some carelessness when failing to dispatch a rather large fleet of shool buses to evacuate the populace in the hours leading up to the disaster. Governor Kathleen Blanco certainly demonstrated some oversight and incompetence when she admitted that she didn't know that she need to actually request assistance before federal agencies could be allowed to enter the sovereign State of Louisiana.

If there was one conspiracy that could honestly be said to have taken place in the aftermath of Katrina, it was the Conspiracy of Elected Officials to Blame Everyone and Anyone but Themselves (the CEO BEAT).

But, attempting to blame someone else for your own incompetence may not be a crime, unless it's done under oath. Then again, in the metaphorical Court of Public Opinion, a "crime" is whatever we say it is, even though the only sentence we can impose may be the proverbial "public execution".

When I first read EvilBat's opening salvo, I wasn't sure how I could respond to it. I think it came out all right, but it was a close shave.


(**groan**, I know, I know...
)



posted on Aug, 8 2007 @ 12:59 AM
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Thank you, Mr. Spork for your assistance in proving my point, i.e., #4 in the definition of Conspiracy, because I do believe that the government, as a “group” have tacitly agreed, albeit silently, to consistently ignore the needs of the people of New Orleans regarding the safety of their lives and homes.
From the executive branch down to the mayor of the city, all have turned their backs at one time or another on those needs.

“Louisiana’s politicians are no different from those of other states: they want to get as many federal dollars as they can and spend them on projects that will have the biggest economic impact. They judged the risk of a Category 4 or 5 hurricane taking a direct path over New Orleans sufficiently low as to permit the money to go to projects that were seemingly more urgent. Obviously, they guessed wrong–with tragic consequences.” -James Joyner - Outside the Beltway

"We thought all the projects were important -- not just levees, hindsight is a wonderful thing, but navigation projects were critical to our economic survival." former Democratic senator John Breaux said.
Senator Hillary Clinton, from a church in Harlem: "Our leadership has turned its back on those people who still need us."

I'd say that this catastrophe is still not being looked at by officials as a catastrophe but a money making scheme. Even if they acknowledge it they still have no intention of helping the people out.
When money is given to the government of Louisiana they work on other projects to get more people to visit so they can get more money. When departments of the federal government get money to help out the victims they instead use it for something else.

As of Aug 29, 2006 the funding was at $122.5 billion for both Katrina and Rita
yet what was found out shocked people.
FEMA was given $2,000 debit cards that were intended to pay for necessities but instead they bought TV's and other luxury's. Some of them even got themselves tattoos and seasonal sports events tickets.

Then came the mobile homes that were billed at the cost of much as $400,000 per family household and yet I can say that I worked on some of those “homes” they are not $400,000 as billed but minimum of $10,000 towables and the company I was with did it for “charity” (tax write off) the only $400,000+ ones (coaches) would be for the FEMA management or government officials and the wealthy to be in while touring the area, viewing the damage that will most likely never get fixed.

Where did all the money go? Into the pockets of the officials.

The victims ... neglected.



posted on Aug, 8 2007 @ 09:30 PM
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What we are debating here is a simple question: Were the effects of Hurricane Katrina on the Ninth Ward of New Orleans severely worsened by a government conspiracy? My esteemed opponent posits that the answer is yes, and opens this round by citing two relevant quotes to support that position. (I'll ignore the Hillary quote since I have no idea what it's context was.)

While those two quotes are meant to bolster the case for the resolution, the quote from James Joyner does not support the resolution. Joyner simply accused the Louisiana politicians of bad judgement, not malice, as his concluding remark illustrates: "Obviously, they guessed wrong–with tragic consequences.” Former Senator Breaux's comment, likewise, speaks of "hindsight". But, since we are dealing with the aftermath of Katrina, let's spend this installment examining that aftermath.

For this second round, EvilBat makes two basic assertions: 1) that government officials treat the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina as a money making scheme and, 2) that the federal government is used money meant for aid, for other things.

As for point #1: While EvilBat sites no specific examples to back up the claim that officials were trying to make money off the clean-up, I can refute it with one glaring example of blowing just such an opportunity.

There were an estimated 50,000 destroyed and/or abandoned vehicles in New Orleans, largely in the flooded 9th Ward. A Texas auto crushing company offered Mayor Ray Nagin $100 per vehicle -- "as is, where is" -- to tow and crush the vehicles, a deal that would have netted the city an estimated $5,000,000. Instead, Mayor Nagin opted to pay, with city funds, towing contractors in Georgia, then Alabama, $23,000,000 to get the job done.

Far from this being a government conspiracy, the Georgia contractor, in fact, is currently being sued by the federal government for fraudulant claims of it's personnel and equipment.

On point #2: EvilBat claims that "FEMA was given $2,000 debit cards that were intended to pay for necessities but instead they bought TV's and other luxury's. Some of them even got themselves tattoos and seasonal sports events tickets." But, in fact, the $2,000 debit cards were handed out, over a two day period, to displaced victims of the hurricane, not to FEMA employees.

Some New Orleans refugees did, indeed, spend their aid money unwisely. (And at least one debit card issued by the Red Cross, who instituted a similar plan, was fraudulantly debitted after a photo of it was printed in the media.) But this is fraud by the victims themselves, and doesn't fit the bill of a government conspiracy that severely worsened the effects of Hurricane Katrina on the 9th Ward of New Orleans.

As for the claim that FEMA was billed for up to $400,000 per mobile home built to house hurricane victims, the only mentions of this that I could find all lead back to an op-ed peice in The Wall Street Journal.
But, assuming that's a true story, we're talking about private contractors defrauding the federal government, not the government defrauding the victims of Hurricane Katrina and severely worsening their plight.

So, where did all the money go? Into the pockets of hurricane victims and the contractors that were paid to make their situation better. While it may seem at times that defrauding the government has become a national pastime, there is no evidence that a government conspiracy has negatively effected the Nine Ward of the city of New Orleans.

While some fraudsters and hucksters may have made money in it's wake, the flood and it's victims have been helped by the assistance that made it's way to them, no matter what it cost the rest of us taxpayers.



posted on Aug, 9 2007 @ 03:11 PM
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As I have said before, neglect comes from not only federal government but also from the local government: a government of elected officials that also includes the mayor, and people that are in charge of the wards.

For many years they have neglected the levee repairs, allowing shabby workmanship, or simply ignoring the problem. It is the responsibility of the government, Fed to local, to maintain the levees, not the people. When the people have to hire civil engineers to check the work of the Army corps to show the work is wrong and they don't fix it, that is neglect.

From National Geographic link
New Orleans' Levees: Can Disaster Strike Again?
May 16, 2007 “The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers declared almost a year ago that it had restored the barriers to pre-Katrina strength. But leading experts from the U.S. and the Netherlands say the system is riddled with flaws. They say that even a weaker storm than Katrina could breach the levees if it hit this season.”

Here are a few promises from Bushes speech 9/15/5 link
Are these promises fulfilled? No. Why? Because they have “more important things to do now”.

From a news story with Barack Obama, posted on Jul 14, 2007, link

“Approaching the second anniversary of Katrina that rocked New Orleans in 2005, many are still homeless; some are still living in government trailers and others scattered across the country. Rents have skyrocketed in New Orleans, jobs are scarce and crime is rampant. “

Hurricane Katrina Victims, One Year Later: Neglect, Heroism and Despair link

Seems to me, that if the Government was doing its job, people wouldn't still be complaining and other officials wouldn't be trying to get things fixed. If the government was doing what they say, wouldn't the levees be in better condition?

The peoples needs are not being met, just skirted around. I agree the mayor did a horrible thing to the people and the money should have been used more wisely, as he neglected his duties. I have no idea why elected officials do this but they do. They have been doing this for many years. If they had made a better system, as they promised back in 1958 with construction of MRGO, then there wouldn't be problems like there are today with the north ward.



posted on Aug, 9 2007 @ 10:33 PM
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Neglect and indifference by local, state and national leaders may constitute a dereliction of duty. It is certainly not conspiratorial, though it appears to somewhat cultural.

In the late '70s there was a heinous evil perpetrated on the American people called "disco music". Due to the lamentable state of popular culture at the time, the record buying public pushed disco song after disco song to the top of the charts. Did a cabal of troubled teenagers conspire to inflict that wretched nonsense on us all, or was it merely the whims and ways of the contempory culture?

Gee. Only one more round and then closing statements, and still so much ground left to cover.



posted on Aug, 10 2007 @ 04:03 PM
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A simple Google search of the term “Conspiracy of Neglect” will provide a plethora of similar conspiracies alive and well all over the world.

The well-documented instances of government turning its back on the citizens of New Orleans are all easily accessed via the internet, provided one cares enough to learn about them.

IMO, this is one of the ugliest Conspiracies in our history and it is still being perpetrated. That being said, I have yet to hear a relevant argument to the contrary.



posted on Aug, 10 2007 @ 10:19 PM
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The term "a conspiracy of neglect" has, indeed, become a somewhat oft used phrase. While it may seem poetic (and even rhetorically useful because it can evoke a psychological response), is the phrase any more accurate than any other contradictory phrase, such as "hurry up and wait"? As Linda Richman once said on an episode of Coffee Talk, "The Holy Roman Empire was neither holy, nor Roman, nor an empire. Discuss."

Far from the government turning it's back on New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, an unprecedented response was launched by FEMA, The Red Cross, as well as the governments of not only Louisiana, but of many, many other states; most notably, Texas.

The debit card programs, and the direct deposit program that immediately followed, helped evacuees with some personal needs that they were not being assisted with directly. Remember, New Orleans, alone, had a population of about 450,000 that needed to be temporarily relocated in a hurry. Add to that the surrounding areas as well as the areas whose structural damage was done by the hurricane's winds themselves rather than the breach of the levees; most notably, Biloxi, Mississippi and her outlying areas.

The almost immediate creation of the Gulf Opportunity Zone was, and is, a major effort to provide "immediate incentives for job-creating investment, tax relief for small businesses, incentives to companies that create jobs, and loans and loan guarantees for small businesses, including minority-owned enterprises, to get them up and running again. It is entrepreneurship that creates jobs and opportunity; it is entrepreneurship that helps break the cycle of poverty; and we will take the side of entrepreneurs as they lead the economic revival of the Gulf region." -- George W Bush, 15 Sept 2005.

Were there mistakes along the way? Sure. Could more have been done? Well, more can always be done. But neglect? I saw just the opposite. I saw and read the stories of dislocated New Orleanians taking up residence in private homes in states from Massachussetts to California. And none of them had to hitchhike to get there.

The response was monumental, not neglectful. It eased the severity of the victims' predicament and improved their prospects for a prosperous future and, therefore, could not be called a "conspiracy of neglect" -- or any other conspiracy -- that "severely worsened" the unfortunate situation caused by Hurricane Katrina.



posted on Aug, 10 2007 @ 10:39 PM
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From the beginning, the neglect has presented a “snowball effect” that over the years has resulted in severe degradation of the levees' ability to perform the function for which they were intended. Even though countless times, it was brought to the attention of the Army Corps of Engineers, they still did not heed the warnings and effectively turned their backs on the people of New Orleans..

There is a class action law suit in the works against the United States Government and Army Corps of Engineers:
link


“ This action results from one of the most predictable and preventable catastrophes in American history- The tragic devastation of homes and lives during the Hurricane Katrina – caused by the United States Army Corps of Engineers” negligent design, construction, maintenance, and operation of the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet (“MRGO”) “

These are sufficient “eye openers”.

Here is the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet “Deep-Draft De-Authorization Interim Report to Congress” by the Army Corps in Dec 2006
link

Hmm...MRGO is being closed.

In closing, I would like to say, people need to wake up.
Thanks for the debate.



posted on Aug, 11 2007 @ 02:29 AM
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Before I close, I would like to thank ATS for providing this great forum for member debates. This has been a blast. Thanks, especially, to The Vagabond for putting in the hours necessary to organize and maintain the flow of the debates. And my hearty thanks to EvilBat for being such a formidable opponent.

Ladies and Gents,

I submit to you that my esteemed opponent has not made a case in support of this debate's resolution. By attempting to redefine the language of the resolution, as it was meant to be understood by the two of us, he has consistently side-stepped the real issue.

I imagine that if the debate topic had been "there is no sugar in Pixie Stix", that he would have simply used his opening statement to redefine Pixie Stix as twigs used as walking canes by little sprites as they meander across the forest floor, thereby absolving himself of addressing the sugar content of one of every child's favorite food groups.

That being said, I believe that I have shown that a government conspiracy to severely worsen the effects of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans' 9th Ward would have resulted in an actual severe worsening of the effects of Katrina.

Instead, we've seen that, no matter how haphazardly the rescue and recovery may have been due to a governmental preparedness that could have used a lot more foresight, the suffering of the victims of that hurricane was, in fact, alleviated to a great degree by the presence and tirelessness of relief workers, as well as the efforts of officials at the top of each level of government, to respond in the best way that they could.

And, when all was said and done, they should be commended for their efforts, not impuned as co-conspirators.

Thank you, one and all.



posted on Aug, 11 2007 @ 03:13 PM
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Great job. This one is ready for the judges.



posted on Aug, 16 2007 @ 02:18 PM
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The winner is Tuning Spork.


EvilBat started strong, and had a great outline of what was to be the basis of his side. However, after the first response from Tuning Spork, the tides had already begun to turn, and it didn't seem like EvilBat was quite able to keep up with Tuning Spork's statements. Context in EvilBat's rebuttals was often poorly laid out,



Evilbat really tried to soft-pedal his position. The conspiracy of neglect angle just wasn't believable. There is precedent for the intentionally destroying levees in one area to relieve pressure in other areas. That would have been a more compelling angle.



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