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September 2005 Archive 

September 22, 2005

I can dream, can't I?

 


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September 20, 2005

President Bush and a giddy Jacques Chirac shake hands on the deal.

President Bush Sells Louisiana Back to the French
    Reuters, BATON ROUGE, LA.  The White House announced today that President Bush has successfully sold the State of Louisiana back to the French at more than double its original selling price of $11,250,000.

     "This is a bold step forward for America," said Bush. "And America will be stronger and better as a result. I stand here today in unity with French Prime Minister Jack Chirac, who was so kind to accept my offer of Louisiana in exchange for 25 million dollars cash."

     The state, ravaged by Hurricane Katrina, will cost hundreds of billions of dollars to rebuild. "Jack understands full well that this one’s a ‘fixer upper," said Bush. "He and the French people are quite prepared to pump out all that water, and make Louisiana a decent place to live again. And they’ve got a lot of work to do. But Jack’s assured me, if it’s not right, they’re going to fix it."
 
    The move has been met with incredulity from the beleaguered residents of Louisiana.  "Shuba-pie!" said New Orleans resident Willis Babineaux. "Frafer-perly yum kom drabby sham!"

     However, President Bush’s decision has been widely lauded by Republicans.  "This is an unexpected but brilliant move by the President," said Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist. "Instead of spending billions and billions, and billions of dollars rebuilding the state of Louisiana, we’ve just made 25 million dollars in pure profit."

     "This is indeed a smart move," commented Fox News analyst Brit Hume. "Not only have we stopped the flooding in our own budget, we’ve made money on the deal. Plus, when the god-awful French are done fixing it up, we can easily invade and take it back again."

     The money gained from "The Louisiana Refund" is expected to be immediately pumped into the rebuilding of Iraq.

September 15, 2005

Bush did order FEMA to New Orleans!


September 13, 2005

The Buck Stops Where? (Part 2)
               OR
Truth or Consequences

On September 7, 2005, The Daily Rant predicted that, notwithstanding Bush's public praise to FEMA Director Michael Brown ("Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job."), Brown would resign.  Yesterday, Brown resigned.  (I'm not asking for or expecting any credit for this as it was highly predictable and widely predicted.)

The shock came yesterday.  Bush actually said something Trumanesque: "Katrina exposed serious problems in our response capability at all levels of government, and to the extent that the federal government didn't fully do its job right, I take responsibility.

Okay, now what?  Now that you've told the truth, Mr. President, what are the consequences?  We all know the consequences suffered by the poor people of New Orleans who waited days for food and water.  But what are the consequences to you?  Obviously, you are not going to follow "Heck Of A Job" Brownie and resign.  You're not going to suspend yourself without pay.  And the Republican Congress which has given you a total free pass on misleading us into the Iraq war (Viet Nam Redux) won't even utter the word "impeachment".  After all, aside from the 1894 American fatalities in Iraq, you've only screwed the American people metaphorically.

Ironically, you might get a bump in the polls for taking some responsibility.  Then, we might see a whole new W.  After seeing how the American people react to candor and honesty, you might decide that mea culpa is cool.  You'll be holding daily press conferences admitting to screwing up the war, the economy, the energy policy, and on and on.  Hell, you'll be taking sole credit for global warming.  As long as we don't catch you cheating on Laura, you're home free.


Q: What is George W. Bush's position on Roe vs. Wade?

A: He really doesn't care how people get out of New Orleans.


September 10, 2005

The Bushes Visit New Orleans


September 8, 2005

How far does the apple fall?

Barbara Bush, the First Mother and former First lady, has been widely reported as being the strong matriarch of the Bush family, the parent who will get in the face of her children to make sure they understand her point of view.  I suggest that she is also the source of the Bush's conservative Republicanism.

Exhibit A:  Mrs. Bush, after touring the Astrodome complex in Houston on Monday, said:

"What I'm hearing, which is sort of scary, is they all want to stay in Texas.  Everyone is so overwhelmed by the hospitality.  And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this is working very well for them."


September 7, 2005

The Buck Stops Where?

Thursday, in an interview on ABC's Good Morning America, President Bush stated: "I don't think anyone anticipated the breach of the levees."

Thursday, FEMA Director Michael Brown said, "I think the other thing that really caught me by surprise was the fact that there were so many people, and I'm not laying blame, but either chose not to evacuate or could not evacuate. And as we began to do the evacuations from the Superdome, all of a sudden, literally thousands of other people started showing up in other places, and we were not prepared for that. We were, we were surprised by that."

On Friday, Bush said the response to Katrina was unsatisfactory. Nevertheless, he had nothing but praise for his FEMA director. "Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job," the president said.

Saturday, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff argued that government planners did not predict such a disaster ever could occur.  Chertoff, fielding questions from reporters, said government officials did not expect both a powerful hurricane and a breach of levees that would flood the city of New Orleans.  "That 'perfect storm' of a combination of catastrophes exceeded the foresight of the planners, and maybe anybody's foresight," Chertoff said.  He called the disaster "breathtaking in its surprise."

Yesterday, Bush, in announcing that he would head up an investigation into the federal response to Katrina, stated, "So, I'm going to find out, over time, what went right and what went wrong."

So, where do you think the buck will stop when Bush concludes his "investigation"?  Will Bush be Trumanesque and accept responsibility or will lesser heads roll? 

My bet is that FEMA Director Michael Brown who, prior to going to FEMA as a Bush political appointee, was fired by the International Arabian Horse Association because of his incompetence, will fall on his sword and resign, protecting Bush who doesn't like to fire his cronies.

Stay tuned.


Jimmy Kimmel:  "Hurricane Katrina has been particularly hard on President Bush, who was forced to end his vacation two days early. He was supposed to be clearing brush in Texas until Friday. Now he's going to get back to the White House tomorrow. You know, if he doesn't use his vacation days, he loses them, so this is hard on everybody."


September 3, 2005

Katrina...

 
As awful as the past five days have been, it is important to remember that Katrina veered to the east and delivered only a "glancing" blow to New Orleans.  It could have been worse.

Federal, state, and local authorities have known for decades that New Orleans would be a catastrophe if hit by a major hurricane.  They knew the levees needed to be strengthened but federal funds which would have shored up the levees were repeatedly cut from the budget of the Army Corps of Engineers.

When officials ordered an evacuation of New Orleans, they knew that several hundred thousand people, mostly poor and mostly black, had no means to evacuate.  No effort was made to evacuate these helpless souls.

Two massive shelters were designated for those who remained in the city, the Superdome and the Convention Center, but no provisions were made for food, water, medical services, or bathroom facilities at the Convention Center.

The area around the Convention Center was not flooded.  There is no reason why Army helicopters could not have been prepositioned to fly food, water, and supplies to the Convention Center as soon as the hurricane moved beyond the city, perhaps as early as Monday night.  It took until Friday.

Apparently, no advance planning was made for emergency communications following a hurricane.  Local police and firefighters had no way to recharge their handheld radios once the gas in their cars ran out. 

Despite decades of planning, the several days' warning that the hurricane was likely to hit New Orleans, and the statements by FEMA and other officials that they had prepositioned all necessary assets near the storm track, the National Guard and federal relief supplies did not arrive until four days after the storm.

As I stated, the vast majority of people left to suffer (a countless number died) were poor and black.  Ask yourself whether you think this would have gone this way if a similar storm struck Hilton Head, SC, a resort community for wealthy, predominantly white people.

The bureaucrats who are charged with planning for and responding to such natural disasters are appointed by politicians who we elect.  We have allowed this to happen.  We are all diminished.  We should all be outraged.  We should all be ashamed.

What they do to the least of us, they do to all.

We are they.

www.thedailyrant.us


September 2, 2005

Katrina...

There is so much to say, too much.

Katrina took Miami by surprise last Thursday night.  We were expecting only a rain event and we were surprised with a serious wind event which knocked out power for 750,000 people and topples thousands of mature trees.  My home lost power and, on Friday, we escaped the heat, made our way to Fort Lauderdale, and took a previously scheduled trip to New Orleans to visit our son for the weekend.  I'll spare you the details except to say that we made it out of New Orleans by leaving in our rental car at 3 AM on Sunday morning and driving back to Miami.  Our son, his girlfriend, and their puppy left New Orleans on Sunday for her family home in northern Mississippi which, as it turned out, had a tree fall on the roof when Katrina arrived there on Monday evening.

Enough of my family's encounters with Katrina.  I want to rant about our president.  I was prepared to cut him some slack - after all, he did cut his vacation short by two days.  And I'm sure that the 1700 foot flyby by Air Force One on Wednesday gave a lot of comfort to the people waving towels on their roofs in New Orleans.  But then I saw the following article:

Budget cuts delayed New Orleans flood control work

By Andy Sullivan, Reuters,Thu Sep 1, 7:33 PM ET

Bush administration funding cuts forced federal engineers to delay improvements on the levees, floodgates and pumping stations that failed to protect New Orleans from Hurricane Katrina's floodwaters, agency documents showed on Thursday.

The former head of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the agency that handles the infrastructure of the nation's waterways, said the damage in New Orleans probably would have been much less extensive had flood-control efforts been fully funded over the years.

"Levees would have been higher, levees would have been bigger, there would have been other pumps put in," said Mike Parker, a former Mississippi congressman who headed the engineering agency from 2001 to 2002.

"I'm not saying it would have been totally alleviated but it would have been less than the damage that we have got now."

Eighty percent of New Orleans was under water after Katrina blew through with much of the flooding coming after two levees broke.

A May 2005 Corps memo said that funding levels for fiscal years 2005 and 2006 would not be enough to pay for new construction on the levees.

Agency officials said on Thursday in a conference call that delayed work was not related to the breakdown in the levee system and Parker told Reuters the funding problems could not be blamed on the Bush administration alone.

Parker said a project dating to 1965 remains unfinished and that any recent projects would not have been in place by the time the hurricane struck even if they had been fully funded.

"If we do stuff now it's not going to have an effect tomorrow," Parker said. "These projects are huge, they're expensive and they're not sexy."

White House spokesman Scott McClellan said the administration had funded flood control efforts adequately.

Tensions over funding for the New Orleans levees emerged more than a year ago when a local official asserted money had been diverted to pay for the Iraq war. In early 2002, Parker told the U.S. Congress that the war on terrorism required spending cuts elsewhere in government.

Situated below sea level, New Orleans relied on a 300-mile

network of levees, floodgates and pumps to hold back the waters of the Mississippi River and Lake Pontchartrain.

Levees were fortified after floods in 1927 and 1965, and Congress approved another ambitious upgrade after a 1995 flood killed six people.

Since 2001, the Army Corps has requested $496 million for that project but the Bush administration only budgeted $166 million, according to figures provided by the office of Louisiana Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu (news, bio, voting record).

Congress ultimately approved $250 million for the project during that time period.

Another project designed to shore up defenses along Lake Pontchartrain was similarly underfunded, as the administration budgeted $22 million of the $99 million requested by the Corps between 2001 and 2005. Congress boosted spending on that project to $42.5 million, according to Landrieu's office.

"It's clear that we didn't do everything we could to safeguard ourselves from this hurricane or from a natural disaster such as Katrina but hopefully we will learn and be more prepared next time," said Landrieu spokesman Brian Richardson.

The levee defenses had been designed to withstand a milder Category Three hurricane and simply were overwhelmed by Hurricane Katrina, said senior project manager Al Naomi.

"The design was not adequate to protect against a storm of this nature because we were not authorized to provide a Category Four or Five protection design," he said.

A study examining a possible upgrade is under way, he said.

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