September 2005 Archives

September 18, 2005

Schwarzenegger Takes Shot at Public Employee Unions in His State

"Public employee unions' members should not be forced to contribute to causes, candidates and controversial issues that they don't believe in," California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger said "during a luncheon before hundreds of supporters at the California Republican Convention at the Anaheim Marriott " yesterday, September 17, 2005, according to the San Francisco Chronicle .

That's not a contribution. That is a tax." the governor was quoted as saying.

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How Katrina Dealt Louisiana Democrats a Heavy Blow

Laura Maggi of the New Orlean's Times Picayune's Capital Bureau assessed the impact that the dispersal of so many African-American voters will have on Louisiana politics. She noted in a September 18, 2005 article that:

With so many New Orleans residents in evacuation centers and temporary housing arrangements across Louisiana and the rest of the country, political analysts say that Hurricane Katrina could prove a turning point in the state's political history.The potentially permanent diaspora of voters - especially the poor and black residents who make up the Democratic Party's most loyal constituency and may lack the resources needed to return - could change the calculations for getting elected to statewide office for years to come.
Does this mean the Democrats will really have to work hard now to convince independents and Republicans to cross the political divide?

Can they do it?

Yes, but not enough to make a difference unless voters decide to punish Republicans for President Bush's slow, politically damaging response to the plight of New Orleanians trapped in the Superdome and the Morial Convention Center in New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina

For more, see "Evacuations throw wrench into Democratic strategy."

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How Much Say Will New Orleanians Have in Rebuilding the City?

In a September 18, 2005 article headlined "Rebuilding plans confront turf wars, political strife," Robert Travis Scott of the New Orleans Times-Picayune's Capital bureau noted that "the city [of New Orleans] has long been limited in determining its own affairs and revenue base."

This seems to put the city in the same category of Washington, D.C., which is controlled, for the most part, by Congress since it is a Federal District. While New Orleans has no such status, it is treated as if it's a state district. The State of Louisiana has considerable control over the city in financial matters, according to Scott.

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September 17, 2005

Katrina Rearranged Bush's Domestic Agenda

The Associated Press: "Hurricane Katrina swamped President Bush's second-term domestic agenda, reordering his priorities and changing the political landscape."

Hopefully, the change will force President Bush to bring U.S. troops home from Afghanistan and Iraq so the money saved can be used to help Americans, Here's more.

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Allen: Nagin's Plan to Re-populate New Orleans Too Ambitious

Coast Guard Vice Admiral Thad Allen said federal officials have worked with [New Orleans] Mayor Ray Nagin and support his vision for repopulating the city, but he called Nagin's idea to return up to 180,000 people to New Orleans in the next week both "extremely ambitious" and "extremely problematic," reports The Associated Press.

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CIA Should Release Its 9/11 Report

Reuters is among the news outlets reporting that "CIA Director Porter Goss is considering congressional requests for the release of a classified agency report on the September 11, 2001, attacks that is said to criticize former senior CIA officials including ex-director George Tenet." The wire service attributed the report to "the spy agency."

Release the document. It's time to stop hiding behind top secret classifications just because a document will embarrass CIA officials.

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Paul Greenberg's Tribute to the Little Rock Nine

Nationally syndicated columnist Paul Greenberg, who is also the editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, penned what I think is a fitting tribute to the Little Rock Nine, whose statues were unveiled August 31, 2005 on the grounds of the Arkansas Capitol grounds at Little Rock.

Just think: It was done while they are still alive. I wish Daisy and L.C. Bates were still around to see them.

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The Democrats and John Roberts Jr.

New York Times correspondent Sheryl Gay Stolberg reported September 16, 2005 that,

U.S. Senate Democrats are deeply conflicted about how to vote on the nomination of Judge John Roberts Jr. to be the 17th chief justice of the United States, and appear divided about how, and whether, to use their vote to send a message to President George W. Bush as he selects a candidate to fill a second Supreme Court vacancy.
Now whose fault is that? Here's more.

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The Aftermath of the John Roberts' Confirmation Hearing

Tony Mauro at Legal Times says, "John Roberts Jr. went before the Senate Judiciary Committee as a Hoosier, a Reagan administration go-getter, a skilled Supreme Court practitioner and an appeals court judge."

"The Supreme Court practitioner won out," he contends. Here's Mauro's analysis.

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Will Schwarzenegger Have to Work Hard to Get Re-Elected?

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger "had long signaled that he would not reveal his re-election plans until after the special election, but events conspired to accelerate his timetable," notes San Diego Tribune staff writer John Marelius in a September 17, 2005 article headlined "Schwarzenegger says he'll run for re-election."

Marelius said, "The timing was an attempt to energize Republican activists who are gathering at the California Republican Party convention this weekend in Anaheim." Schwarzenegger announced his intentions September 16, 2005 before "a cheering crowd at the 4th & B concert hall in downtown [San Diego]" and "said that he intended to "finish the job" of reforming California's governing and political institutions," Marelius noted

"Yes, I will run again," Schwarzenegger was quoted as saying.

Arnold will really have to work this time around simply because he has a record opponents can attack. The novelty is now off and he's consistently facing criticism because of some of his policies.

For more on Schwarzenegger, see ArnoldWatch.Org.

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Illinois GOP Seeks to Benefit from Probe of 'Public Official A'

Republicans here in Illinois are trying to make political hay out of speculation that Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich might be a target of an ongoing Federal investigation into shenanigans at the state's Teachers' Retirement System.

According to the State Journal Register of Springfield, Illinois, the state capital, "The first-term governor's headaches began Thursday [September 15, 2005] when attorneys Steven Loren and Joseph Cari pleaded guilty to helping Stuart Levine, a former Teachers' Retirement System trustee, set up fraudulent transactions in connection with the $30 billion pension fund."

"According to Cari's plea agreement," the paper said, "Levine said a "high-ranking Illinois public official," or Public Official A, and two "close associates" had sought to steer state pension investments as part of a campaign fundraising strategy."

"Media outlets on Thursday [September 15, 2005] and Friday [September 16, 2005], citing confidential sources, said Blagojevich is the official mentioned in the documents," the State Journal Register noted, adding: "Blagojevich's top fundraisers, Tony Rezko and Christopher Kelly, were tagged as the associates."

As might be expected, Blagojevich denies any role in the pension fraud scheme. Here's more.

Here's an Associated Press "Q&A about alleged corruption in teachers pension fund."

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Yes, Cindy Sheehan is Still Talking About the Iraq War

Although she has been overshadowed in the media by Hurricane Katrina, Cindy Sheehan is still taking her anti-war message across the nation. Read her latest "Bus Tour Update with a Detour to New Orleans."

Now is a perfect time for President George W. Bush to heed the call of Sheehan and others and bring the troops home from Iraq and Afghanistan. While it would deprive some of Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney's cronies of billions of dollars in contracts, it would free up billions of dollars needed to rebuild the Gulf Coast of the United States.

By the way, some of the Iraq war profiteers will benefit from the rebuilding of News Orleans and other Gulf Coast towns.

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Cindy Sheehan Puts Baby Chicken Hawks on the Spot

In a September 16, 2005 entry in her journal over at the Daily Kos, anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan made this observation:

Today in Raleigh, NC at the University, there were some Young Republicans who support the President and support the war. I tried to get one of the many recruiters who were on campus to go over and sign them up for the service, but they wouldn't even look at me. I think the recruiters missed a golden opportunity to swell the ranks. I have a feeling that the Young killing supporters wouldn't be willing to go over and put their money where their mouths are.
Sheehan said, "One of the fine young American baby chicken hawks told one of the members of our tour whose brother was killed in Iraq that: "someone has to stay in school and employ people." Sounds like the "Dick Cheney" alternative to serving your country," she added.

Certainly Sheehan wasn't surprised that many of those who want to send other people's sons and daughters to Iraq won't go themselves.

Editor's note: This item is cross-posted at The Opinion Gazette.

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Senator Judd Wants a Katrina Spending Oversight Authority

Facing South has an informative article on Senator Judd Gregg's (Republican-New Hampshire) proposal for a "Katrina Spending Oversight Authority."

If there isn't oversight, billions will be stolen. Of course, Gulf Coast rebuilding funds could be stolen with oversight. Here's more.

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Waveland, Bay St. Louis Mississippi May Merge

"With Waveland [Mississippi] on life support and Bay St. Louis [Mississippi] deeply wounded, a noted expert on Mississippi government said now is the time to consolidate," reports Biloxi Sun-Herald Online.

"Now is an opportune time to take a look at merging the two cities," said Marty Wiseman, director of the Stennis Institute of Government at Mississippi State University. "If the two cities could combine, it might be an opportunity to regain a large measure of their livability."

Here's more on the merger prospect.

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The Political Consequences of Negligence

East Carolina University political scientist Carmine Scavo told The Associated Press on September 15, 2005:

I really do believe that overpreparedness will be the rule in the future, at least for hurricanes where we know what the damage might be and what we can do about it,
The statement was prompted by the speed in which federal officials responded when Hurricane Ophelia caused damage in North Carolina compared to the slowness in which they responded to Katrina.

Officials no doubt want to avoid widespread criticism that could result in embarrassment and career-ending, political consequences. Here in Chicago, it's snow that causes politicians grief. They know from past experience that there will be political consequences if it stays on the major arteries a day and side streets more than three days.

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September 16, 2005

End the Iraq War and Use the Money to Rebuild the U.S.Gulf Coast

President Bush said today that he is "confident we can handle" the rebuilding of the Gulf Coast of the United States and "I'm confident we can handle our other priorities." He added:

It's going to mean that we're going to have to make sure we cut unnecessary spending. It's going to mean we don't do -- we've got to maintain economic growth, and therefore we should not raise taxes. Working people have had to pay a tax, in essence, by higher gasoline prices. And we don't need to be taking more money out of their pocket. And as we spend the money, we got to make sure we spend it wisely. And so we're going to have inspectors general overseeing the expenditure of the money.
One way get money to rebuild the Gulf Coast is to stop spending billions of dollars on the war in Iraq. Bring the troops home immediately. Cancel all contracts with war profiteers operating in Iraq and end the U.S. subisdy to Israel and other foreign nations. There is no excuse for not converting this foreign into domestic aid.

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Addressing the Nation From a Near Empty City

Why did President George W. Bush deliver his September 15, 2005 address to the nation from New Orleans? The city is virtually empty of New Orleanians except for a few holdouts who refuse to leave.

Why didn't he go to Houston and stand before some of the citizens of New Orleans, who suffered for nearly four days because his administration did not act quickly enough to evacuate them or bring them food and water?

I suspect he delivered the address from New Orleans because he didn't want to have to answer questions they would have posed. The time to deliver an address in New orleans was immediately after Hurricane Katrina struck, not after the city has been evacuated. It's as if he simply wanted to use the city as a prop.

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Michael Brown Still Trying to Pass the Buck

Laura Maggi of the New Orleans Times-Picayune's Capital bureau reported today that Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco "sharply disputed criticism Thursday [September 15, 2005] by the former chief of the Federal Emergency Management Agency," Michael Brown, "that Blanco and her staff were incapable of mounting an effective response when the agency came to help with the unfolding disaster wrought by Hurricane Katrina."

I'm not surprised that Brown is still trying to pass the buck. Admit it Brown, you were not qualified to head FEMA during a national disaster. You blew it when you were slow to send help to the desperate people of the Gulf Coast after Katrina delivered her devastating blow to the area.

Your boss, Michael Chertoff, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, also blew a chance to show that he was capable of responding immediately to a national emergency. So did President Bush.

Instead of blaming Blanco, you should be fighting the Bush Administration's attempt to make you the scapegoat. I know President Bush has taken responsibility for the slow response, but that's a political decision.

However, if you want to accept that role, it's your business. Here's more. Here's The New York Times article in which Brown made his claims against Blanco.

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The Political Showdown of the Decade?

Boston Globe staff writer Nina J. Easton, writing in a September 16, 2005 article headlined "Would-be showdown lost audience," noted that the confirmation hearings for Supreme Court Nominee John G. Roberts, Jr., "once billed as the political showdown of the decade, rapidly lost audience share as the week dragged on."

"With Roberts coolly parrying even the most barbed questioning from Democrats, no surprise revelation emerged," she contends.

I didn't hear any surprise revelations either. At least nothing that would keep Roberts from being confirmed. Barring death or disability, he is the next Chief Justice of the United States.

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John Roberts and Stare Decisis

James Kuhnhenn of Knight Ridder Newspapers says "There's little question" that U.S. Supreme Court nominee John G. Roberts, Jr., "boosted by an unflappable presentation" before the Senate Judiciary Committee this week, "will be confirmed to replace the late Chief Justice William Rehnquist.

"At issue," he wrote, "is whether the Senate will confirm Roberts by an overwhelming margin or whether the vote will split along party lines."

I listened to 95 percent of the hearings and agree with Kuhnhenn. I think Roberts will have a distinguished but controversial career as the Chief Justice of the United States.

However, I'm a bit troubled by his seemingly unwavering adherence to Stare Decisis. If the Warren Court had strictly adhered to that principle, there would have never been a groundbreaking decision in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas. Cumming v. Richmond County Board of Education would still be the law of the land as far as public education is concerned.

Editor's Note. This item is cross-posted at The Opinion Gazette.

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Bush's Speech Produces Hope and Skepticism

Tatsha Robertson, a staff writer for the Boston Globe, reports that "residents of New Orleans displaced" to Houston that she interviewed last night "reacted with hope and skepticism to President Bush's speech last night." Here's more.

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The Fat Cat's Game

During his September 15, 2005 address to the nation on rebuilding the U.S. Gulf Coast, President Bush proposed "the creation of a Gulf Opportunity Zone, encompassing the region of the disaster in Louisiana and Mississippi and Alabama." He explained:
Within this zone, we should 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. I propose the creation of Worker Recovery Accounts to help those evacuees who need extra help finding work. Under this plan, the federal government would provide accounts of up to $5,000, which these evacuees could draw upon for job training and education to help them get a good job, and for child care expenses during their job search. And to help lower-income citizens in the hurricane region build new and better lives, I also propose that Congress pass an Urban Homesteading Act. Under this approach, we will identify property in the region owned by the federal government, and provide building sites to low-income citizens free of charge, through a lottery. In return, they would pledge to build on the lot, with either a mortgage or help from a charitable organization like Habitat for Humanity. Home ownership is one of the great strengths of any community, and it must be a central part of our vision for the revival of this region.
Although Mr. Bush assured the nation that the region's poor will not be left out of the economic boom that will result from the rebuilding process, my guess is that Mr. Bush and Vice-President Dick Cheney's wealthy friends and political contributors will reap most of the billions we, the taxpayers, will spend to rebuild the Gulf Coast. They benefitted from the Iraq war as if the war was started just for that purpose, and they will benefit here too. Indeed, so-called minority contractors will get something. But overall, this is a fat cat's game. Editor's note: This article is cross-posted at The Diplomatic Times Review.
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Bush's September 15 Speech on Rebuilding the U.S. Gulf Coast

President Bush offered great ideas in his speech last night from News Orleans. As I listened to him offer ideas for rebuilding the U.S. Gulf Coast and New Orleans, the city that has become a symbol of shame and embarrassment for him because he didn't do anything significant to help the people evacuate and get food and water until four days after Hurricane Katrina passed, I found myself saying:

You should have done this from New Orleans the day after the Hurricane, Mr. President. If you had, you wouldn't be wasting your time tonight trying to score political points with the American people, who've been rightly critical of you for your slow response to calls for help to evacuate helpless Americans from the Super Dome and the Morial Convention Center in New Orleans, as flood waters, criminals and other dangers raged around them.

I doubt Hip Hop Superstar Kanye West would have said you didn't care about black people if you had initially stopped in New Orleans instead of flying over the city as people suffered on the ground. You would have come off as compassionate and willing to help Americans as much as you say you are helping Iraqis.

But that's in the immediate past but not forgotten. It's stored away until the next election. The question now is: Will you keep the promises outlined in your speech and not let New Orleans' poor get shafted again as billions of dollars pour into the city for your laudable rebuilding efforts?

Here's a White House transcript of the speech.

Editor's note: This item is cross-posted at The Opinion Gazette.

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September 15, 2005

Is there a Struggle Between the Beltway and the Blogosphere?

Newsweek's Howard Fineman says "Democrats are struggling to reconcile the differences between party leaders in D.C. and independent activists on the Net." Here's why.

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September 14, 2005

Foti Defends Charges Against Nursing Home Owners

Louisiana Attorney General Charles C. Foti, Jr. says the multiple counts of negligent homicide that he filed against Salvador and Mable Mangano in the deaths of 34 residents who were not evacuated from their nursing home as Hurricane Katrina approached are justified.

Would anyone expect him to say otherwise. Here's more.

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Was it Really Negligent Homicide?

When I heard on CNN last night that the owners of a nursing home in St. Bernard Parish, Louisiana,were, according to a report in the New Orleans Times-Picayune, arrested" September 13, 2005 and "booked" on charges of "negligent homicide for allegedly failing to evacuate the home despite grave warnings" about Hurricane Katrina's power "and an offer by parish officials to send buses" that were turned down, I immediately started thinking about the charges as if were preparing their defense.

According to Louisiana Attorney General Charles Foti, Salvador A. Mangano Sr and his wife, Mable B. Mangano, are responsible for the deaths of "34 residents" who died during Hurricane Katrina.

What caused this response?

During the past 15-years, I've conducted discovery for the defense on hundred civil cases for the Chicago Park District. Some were cases in which park patrons were killed by drowning in CPD pools or by a falling tree in a park, etc. Because of my experience with such cases, whenever I hear charges such as those filed against the Manganos, I immediately start thinking about how the case can been won, not whether or not the charges were merited.

After listening to Paula Zahn interview the Louisiana attorney general, the Manganos' Defense Attorney, James A. Cobb, St. Bernard Parish Coroner Bryan Bertucci and a nurse who had the audacity to say the Manganos should have known the levees would break in New Orleans, I concluded that case could won in a court of law, if not in the court of public opinion.

Not only that, I asked: Why don't these folks keep their mouths closed. Admittedly, I did hear things from the coroner and the nurse that could help the defense. Second conclusion: No matter how the criminal case goes, it's the civil cases that will probably keep the Manganos in court for years.

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Some Louisiana Elections Postponed Because of Katrina

Mark Waller of the New Orleans Times-Picayune's East Jefferson bureau reported September 14, 2005 that,
Hurricane Katrina has forced an indefinite postponement of the fall elections in Orleans and Jefferson parishes, the Louisiana secretary of state's office said Tuesday.October 15 was the primary date for special elections for School Board, Kenner City Council and the state's 5th Circuit Court of Appeal in Jefferson Parish, and runoffs were set for November 12 if necessary.
He said, "Three New Orleans neighborhoods had November 12 referendums planned on fees or taxes to finance security patrols and other local improvements."
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Honore says Katrina Was Like a Well-Planned Military Attack

Mary Swerczek, staff writer of the New Orleans Times-Picayune, reported September 14, 2005, that, "U.S. Army Lieutenant General Russel L. Honore, who is leading the military response to Hurricane Katrina, said that if he had been attacking the Gulf Coast, he would have used the same tactics as the deadly storm.

"Honore said Katrina's wrath amounted to a "classic military maneuver," using overwhelming power and the element of surprise to cripple communications and block transportation routes," Swerczek wrote, adding: "And the storm covered its flanks by breeching levees and destroying railroads. The result was "a disaster of biblical proportions," he told a group of editors and writers from The Times-Picayune on Tuesday [September 13, 2005].

If I recall correctly, overwhelming force was what former Secretary of State Colin Powell told President Bush was needed to totally subdue and occupy Iraq.

Editor's Note: This item is cross-posted at The Opinion Gazette.

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Tourists Spent $2 billion on Mississippi's Gulf Coast in 2004

Years ago, I visited many cities and towns in Mississippi as a journalist but never thought of the state and its Gulf Coast as tourist draws. Yet, according to The Clarion-Ledger of Jackson, Mississippi,

Of the almost 31 million tourists who visited the state in 2004 about 11.4 million visited the Mississippi Gulf Coast, according to the Mississippi Development Authority's Tourism Division.
The paper said, "Expenditures by tourists who visited the Gulf Coast in 2004 accounted for $2 billion of the $6.4 billion expenditures by tourists statewide. Tourism-related jobs on the Gulf Coast accounted for 31,260 in 2004."

So what is the key to economic revival on the Gulf Coast? According to the Clarion-Ledger, "Craig Ray, the Mississippi Development Authority's director of tourism, said the rebuilding of the 13 casinos along the Gulf Coast is key to reviving overall tourism."

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September 13, 2005

Peter Fitzgerald 'No Longer Focusing on Politics'

Former Illinois Republican Senator Peter Fitzgerald, whose old seat is now held by Barack Obama, told Dennis Conrad of The Associated Press: "I absolutely could not envision getting back into elective politics, at least until my son Jake is in college."

Fitzgerald, a maverick, retired after one term in the Senate.

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AP: San Jose Will Soon Elect First Vietnamese-American to City Council

San Jose, California, "the nation's 10th largest city," will "soon have its first Vietnamese-American council member," according to The Associated Press. Here's why.

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Hatch: We Must Use Judicial Standard to Evaluate Roberts

Orrin G. Hatch, a Republican U.S. senator from Utah and a member and former chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, states in a September 13, 2005 article at National Review Online that:
We must use a judicial, rather than a political, standard to evaluate Judge Roberts's fitness for the Supreme Court. That standard must be based on the fundamental principle that judges interpret and apply but do not make law.
Hatch said, "Judge Roberts must decide how best to honor his own commitment to judicial impartiality and independence, deciding for himself when that obligation outweighs what senators, including me, might want to know." Here's more.
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Washington Post Blogging the Roberts Confirmation Hearings

The Washington Post is blogging the John G. Roberts, Jr Supreme Court confirmation hearings. I've read some of the coverage and it's good. I think this is the best way to cover a long hearing for a public that seems to lean more towards the visual.

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CNN: Brown May Not Be Last to Lose Job Over Katrina

CNN says, "Michael Brown may have been the first official to lose his job to Hurricane Katrina, but he might not be the last."

Good! Hopefully, Michael Chertoff, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, is next to go. Here's more.

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Bush Takes Some Responsibility for Katrina Aftermath

President George W. Bush, September 13, 2005: "Katrina exposed serious problems in our response capability at all levels of government and to the extent the federal government didn't fully do its job right, I take responsibility."

Where did President Harry Truman say the buck stops?

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New Orleans is Out of Money

Robert Travis Scott of the New Orleans Times-Picayune's Capital bureau reported yesterday that New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin said September 12, 2995 that "the city had spent its last available cash last week on city employee payroll and was seeking bank loans, federal assistance and other means of financing to continue paying its bills and staff."

"Technically today we're out of cash," Nagin was quoted as saying. "The city is bankrupt ... We have no money."

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September 11, 2005

William Rees-Mogg: 'The wind at Hillary's Back'

William Rees-Mogg of The Times Online of London asked in his September 12, 2005 column:

Has Katrina made Hillary Clinton the next President of the United States?
His answer: "No, because her campaign was already rolling ahead in the month before the hurricane. But Katrina, and the slow response, may have been the final blow to Republican prospects for the election of 2008."

For more, see "The wind at Hillary's back."

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Does Insensitivity Run in the Bush Family?

A September 11, 2005 Toledo (Ohio) Blade editorial says "Insensitivity must run in the [Bush] family. The editorial is headlined "Compassionate conservatives?"

I don't know if it runs in the entire family but President Bush didn't seem too sensitive towards the plight of Americans hit hard by Hurricane Katrina until he realized he was paying a high political cost by not reacting quickly to aid people in Mississippi and Louisiana. Today he made his third trip to the region. The first was on September 7, 2005. He visited the region again for a few hours on September 9.

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'Two For The Court'

The Grand Rapids (Michigan ) Press stated in a September 11, 2005 editorial that, "The nation is owed a thorough U.S. Senate examination this week of Supreme Court nominee John G. Roberts, but nothing so far suggests anything but a strong endorsement is in order."

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'Political Calculations' Will Color Roberts Hearings

Bennett Roth, a Washington correspondent for the Houston Chronicle, says "as the Senate Judiciary Committee begins hearings Monday [September 12, 2005] on the prospective chief justice [John Roberts]---the first Supreme Court nominee in over a decade---political calculations will color the proceedings as much as the jousting of competing ideological camps." Here's Roth's analysis.

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Will Politics or Law Guide John Roberts

"Now that John Roberts has been nominated for the post of chief justice, there is growing sentiment among senators -- especially Democrats -- that President Bush's choice should be treated as something of a "gimme," proclaimed Peter M. Shane, a law professor at Ohio State University, and Reed Hundt, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission from 1993 to 1997, in article in the September 11, 2005 edition of the Washington Post.

"After all," they added, "from the liberal point of view, some argue, how could he be worse than the late Chief Justice William Rehnquist?"

"Well," Shane and Hunt continued, "based on Roberts's views while he was an executive branch lawyer and on his recent vote in the case of Hamdan v. Rumsfeld -- which held that military commissions may determine whether military captives are prisoners of war or enemy combatants -- there is every reason to suspect that as chief justice, Roberts could well move the Supreme Court in a much more conservative direction on an all-important but easily overlooked set of issues: constitutional checks and balances as applied to the president."

You can be certain that President Bush wouldn't have nominated Roberts first as a supreme court justice and later chief justice of the United States if he thought he would not adhere to the conservative legal agenda. Only time will tell whether Roberts will examine the merits of each case that comes before the court or apply an interpretation of law based on political ideology.

Here's more of Shane and Hunt's analysis.

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John Roberts' Fitness For Duty Hearings Start September 12

Gail Russell Chaddock, staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor, notes in an article in the September 12, 2005 edition that:

John Roberts's appearance Monday [September 12, 2005] at the historic Senate Caucus Room - marking the start of his confirmation hearings to be the 17th chief justice of the United States - begins the official conversation about his fitness for this lifetime appointment.

He will face 18 senators (10 Republicans and eight Democrats). But the hearings are also a conversation with the American people about two branches of government - Congress and the high court - that seem increasingly at odds with each other.

It will be interesting to see how the hearings play in the media amid the tug of the powerful images of the destruction and human suffering wrought by Hurricane Katrina and the politics of the recovery effort.

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Looking at Fox News in a Different Light

Reading Washingtonian Online media columnist Harry Jaffe's September 9, 2005 column headlined "Fox News: Telling It Like It Is in New Orleans" has made me look at Fox News in a different light, especially reporter Shepard Smith, a Mississippi native.

In recent years, I've considered the network a shill for the Bush Administration. For a while that was its role, and it may return to that role. But I've seen enough to say that some journalists at the network will break from the pack and challenge the talking heads in the studio when they try to sell an image that does not conform to what reporters see on the ground in Mississippi and Louisiana.

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Where Did Bush Get Phrase 'Compassionate Conservative'?

While reading "A farewell after 60 Monitor years," Godfrey Sperling Jr.'s article in the September 6, 2005 edition of The Christian Science Monitor recounting his 60-years with the Boston-based paper, I ran across this tidbit:

When George W. Bush first described himself as a "compassionate conservative," the press thought it had heard something new. Not so. He got it from Dad, who'd used it first when, on "Meet the Press" in 1979, I'd asked the elder Bush what "vision" he'd bring to the presidency if elected.
Sperling makes many interesting and similar observations in his farewell piece.

Editor's Note: This item is also posted at The Opinion Gazette, one of my other blogs.

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September 10, 2005

Lawyers From States Hit by Katrina Allowed to Practice in Arkansas

The Associated Press (AP) reports that, "The Arkansas Supreme Court has issued an order allowing lawyers from areas affected by Hurricane Katrina to practice in Arkansas.

"The order gives lawyers from Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi 60 days in which they can work in Arkansas," the AP said.

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The John Roberts Confirmation Hearings

The Economist says "John Roberts' nomination as chief justice [of the United States] makes the coming Senate [confirmation] hearings all the more momentous."

It did raise the stakes for the Democrats. See "The Battle Begins" for The Economist's take on the subject.

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Did Lawyer Lose Job For Commenting on Karl Rove?

Jo Fish at the Democratic Veteran blog comments on the September 7, 2005 firing of Attorney Elizabeth Reyes, 30, of Austin, Texas, for telling "the truth about Karl Rove." Reyes worked for the Texas Secretary of State's office.

Read "Long Arm of the Rove" for Fish's commentary on the matter.

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Laura Bush Wants a Woman to Replace O'Connor

Will retiring U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor be replaced by a woman?

Maybe. Laura Bush said on September 9, 2005 she hopes her husband, President George W. Bush, selects a woman as O'Connor's replacement.

Will he do it to please his woman?

For more, see Laura Bush's September 8, 2005 interview with American Urban Radio Network.

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Is Thomas Friedman Beginning to See the Light?

I have never been a fan of New York Times Op-Ed columnist Thomas L. Friedman but I read him regularly because of his influence in some policy circles. I thought, and still do, his support of the Bush Administration's invasion and occupation of Iraq was reprehensible. The bottom line is that, he has written very little with which I agree. Of course, it's inconsequential. Whether I agree with Friedman doesn't' save lives in Iraq or the U.S.

I read Friedman's September 7, 2005 column expecting more of the same. However, I was quite surprised when I read:

Well, if 9/11 is one bookend of the Bush administration, Katrina may be the other. If 9/11 put the wind at Bush's back, Katrina's put the wind in his face. If the Bush-Cheney team seemed to be the right guys to deal with Osama, they seem exactly the wrong guys to deal with Katrina and all the rot and misplaced priorities its exposed here at home.

These are people so much better at inflicting pain than feeling it, so much better at taking things apart than putting them together, so much better at defending intelligent design as a theology than practicing it as a policy.

"Did Tom Friedman really write that" I asked myself.

Friedman's September 9, 2005 column,"New Orleans and Baghdad" offered a realistic warning to Kurdish, Shiite and Sunni leaders as a result of Katrina. He warns them that, with elections coming up in the U.S. in 2006, they will be left to their own devices if they don't ratify a constitution that ensures peace if the U.S. suddenly pulls out to concentrate troops and money on New Orleans. If there is a choice between financially supporting the New Orleans refugees and rebuilding their city and pumping billions of additional dollars into Iraq, New Orleans will get the money and Iraq will get the shaft.

"Can you imagine if Bush had to go to Congress this week to ask for yet another $100 billion to keep fixing Iraq, when an entire U.S. city needs rebuilding?" Friedman asked the Kurdish, Shiite and Sunni leaders. "And the Katrina TV drama is not going away," he rightly opines. "Hell hath no fury like journalists with a compelling TV story where they get to be the heroes and the government the fools."

Some journalists will still be fools despite Katrina and some government officials will be "heroes," a word I hate because of it's overuse..

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U.S. Won't Prevent Coverage of Recovery of the Dead in New Orleans

Thanks to CNN's legal challenge to Army Lieutenant General Russel Honore September 9, 2005 announcement that the press would not be allowed to cover the recovery of the dead in New Orleans, Joint Task Force Katrina "has no plans to bar, impede or prevent news media from their news gathering and reporting activities in connection with the deceased Hurricane Katrina victim recovery efforts."

Colonel Christian E. deGraff, spokesman for the task force on this issue, made the declaration earlier today, September 10, 2005.

As CNN notes, retiring "U.S. District Court Judge Keith Ellison issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) Friday [September 9, 2005] against a "zero access" policy announced earlier in the day by Army Lieutenant General Russel Honore, who is overseeing the federal relief effort in the city, and Terry Ebbert, the city's homeland security director."

A hearing on the TRO was scheduled for today. However, the issue is now moot.

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Who Will Be the Next U.S. Citizen Detained Without Trial?

I find it absolutely disturbing that Paul Clement, solicitor general of the United States, or any other U.S. Government attorney would willing argue before a court of competent jurisdiction that President George W. Bush, or some future U.S. president, had the right to indefinitely imprison a U.S. citizen without trial. I don't care what the citizen has done, there should be a trial.

Yet, that is what he did. Not only that, the honorable justices of the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals sitting in Richmond, Virginia, sanctioned the Bush Administration's argument on September 9, 2005, when they reversed by published opinion a ruling by Henry F. Floyd, District Judge for the U.S. District Court at Charleston, South Carolina, that Jose Padilla could not be held indefinitely without trial.

Judge Floyd seems to understands that if the government is allowed to hold Padilla without trial, it could be other Americans tomorrow and the next day until we are no different from some of the Middle East countries the U.S. chides for holding people without trial.

Mr. Padilla, who is currently in a military jail in Charleston, South Carolina, was declared an "unlawful enemy combatant" after his arrest at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago on May 8, 2002 after he got off a flight from Pakistan. According to Wikipedia, "On June 9, 2002 President Bush issued an order to Secretary [of Defense Donald] Rumsfeld to detain him as such."

For more, see "Court backs Bush on detainee: Says citizen can be held without trial."

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September 9, 2005

Mr. Rehnquist's Drug Habit

Jack Shafer at Slate has an interesting post on the late William H. Rehnquist's drug habit. He was addicted to Placidyl. His drug habit put him in the company of millions of Americans.

By the way, our Chief Justice of the United States died last week of cancer.

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Scapegoating Michael Brown

The Associated Press (AP) today asked Federal Emergency Management Agency Director Michael Brown, described by the wire service "the principal target of harsh criticism of the Bush administration's response to Hurricane Katrina," if he was "being made a scapegoat for a federal relief effort that has drawn widespread and sharp criticism." Today Michael Chertoff, the Homeland Security Secretary, relieved Brown of his duties as coordinator of the relief and recovery effort in New Orleans.

As to whether he was being made a scapegoat, the AP said Brown stated, "after a long pause," "By the press, yes. By the president, no."

Brown knows that Chertoff's wouldn't have replaced him without President Bush's permission. He should have seen it coming last week--I suspect he did--when President Bush publicly told him he was doing a good job amid widespread criticism.

Finally, Brown has sense enough not to Burn his bridges in anger by accusing the Bush Administration of scapegoating him although that's what's happening. He knows that the safest thing to do is blame the media.

Here's the AP's post on Brown.

This post is also at The Opinion Gazette.

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Chertoff Should Have Resigned Today

On September 9, 2005, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff "directed Mike Brown," head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA),

to return to administering FEMA nationally," ending Brown's feeble and embarrassing attempts to direct the Federal evacuation of New Orleans and help the city recover from the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina. In Brown's place, Chertoff "appointed Vice Admiral Thad Allen of the Coast Guard as the Principal Federal Official (PFO) overseeing Hurricane Katrina response and recovery effort in the field.
Joe Picciano will continue to be deputy PFO in Baton Rouge to support Admiral Allen's efforts," Chertoff said.

After he sacked Brown, Chertoff should have resigned on the spot. He was just as inept and clueless as Brown on how to respond to New Orlean's desperate plea for help in evacuating the city.

Here's Chertoff's announcement about Brown.

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Louisiana Official Say They Rescued 250.000 Before Army Arrived

New Orleans Times-Picayune reporters Jan Moller and Robert Travis Scott of the Capital Bureau reported in the paper's September 8, 2005 newsblog that,

As it became clear last week that the devastation from Hurricane Katrina required far more help than state and local authorities could provide, Gov. Kathleen Blanco and other state officials began pleading for more help from the federal government. But substantial active-duty U.S. Army deployments didn't arrive until a week after the storm, a fact that might turn out to be one of the enduring controversies about the state and national response to one of the deadliest and most costly events in American history.
The Times-Picayune noted that,
Earlier this week, Lt. Gen. Russel Honore, who commands Joint Task Force Katrina, said search-and-rescue is the top priority for the 7,000 active-duty forces ordered to Louisiana by President Bush on Saturday [September 3, 2005].
"Yet the vast majority of the rescue effort was conducted by state and local authorities, volunteers with flat-bottomed boats that could access the narrow streets where flood victims were stranded on roofs and attics, and by the Louisiana National Guard," the publication added.

Here's more.

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New Orleans City Employees With Direct Deposit Get Paid

"All New Orleans city employees with direct deposit received their regular pay as scheduled on Sept. 2, Mayor Ray Nagin's press office" said September 8, 2005, according to

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After Katrina, Will Media Return to Status Quo

Jay Rosen at PressThink has a provocative post and a good roundup of opinion in response to a question raised September 5, 2005 by Matt Wells of the BBC. That question was: "Has Katrina saved US media?" Rosen's answer:

Spine is always good, rage is sometimes needed, and empathy can often reveal the story. But there's no substitute for being able to think. What is the difference between a blame game and real accountability? If you've never really thought it about it, your outrage can easily misfire.
Rosen was "away from blogging when Hurricane Katrina hit and New Orleans went down."

Some of the responses to his post are rather harsh. But so what? Reader comments are what makes a blog interesting.

By the way, I think the press/media has performed admirably up to this point. Especially Anderson Cooper and the CNN crew. The question is: Will Cooper and other journalists return to the status quo when New Orleans is no longer on the front pages and occupying our TV screens? I hope not.

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Iraq, Afghanistan and Katrina: A Costly Trio

Craig Gordon at Newsday of Long Island, New York reported September 7, 2005 that, "Some analysts warn that Katrina, plus Iraq, plus additional tax cuts, plus the upcoming Medicare prescription drug plan could push the federal budget deficit from $331 billion this year toward $450 billion for a new record, because the already stretched budget doesn't have any cushion.

Where in the hell is the money going to come from to pay for all of this?

One solution is to bring U.S. troops home from Afghanistan and Iraq regardless of the consequences. Put Americans first.

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House Democrats and Proposed Republican Hearings on Katrinia

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi , as noted in quotes distributed by U.S. Newswire on September 8, 2005, said September 7, 2005 that,

"The partisan proposal that Republican leaders outlined yesterday is completely unacceptable. House Democrats will not participate in a sham that is just the latest example of congressional Republicans being the foxes guarding the President's hen house.

"Americans want an objective assessment of what went wrong during the federal government's response to Hurricane Katrina. Now that Speaker [Dennis ] Hastert and Leader [Bill] Frist have decided to form a partisan committee, the only way to get Americans the truth about what went wrong and correct how we respond to future disasters is by creating an independent commission.

Pelosi said, "It could be modeled after the independent, bipartisan 9/11 Commission, which did a huge service to our country with its excellent report detailing the urgent task before us to make our nation safer."

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September 8, 2005

DeLay's PAC Indicted But He Escaped: Why?

"A grand jury has indicted a political action committee formed by U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay and a prominent Texas business group in connection with 2002 legislative campaign contributions," the Associated Press (AP) and other news outlets have reported.

So why did the arrogant but powerful congressman from Sugarland, Texas escape indictment?

According to the AP, "District Attorney Ronnie Earle said DeLay was not in his jurisdiction, and therefore couldn't be indicted as part of the ongoing investigation" into a complicated scheme to circumvent the election code and funnel 'massive amounts of secret corporate wealth" into campaigns.'"

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Does it Matter Why Bush Signed Katrina Aid Package?

So President George W. Bush signed legislation September 8, 2005 to provide $51.8 billion in additional funding for survivors of Hurricane Katrina and to help cleanup New Orleans. Congress also moved with unusual speed.

I wonder whether he would have done it without persistent criticism from the public, some members of Congress and the news media. Did Congress move with such speed out compassion or because some of them are up for re-election in 2006?

Frankly, it doesn't matter why the President and Congress acted. The point is that they did what was needed to continue relief efforts.

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Bush Seems to be Finally Showing Compassion

Today President Bush took the "opportunity to speak directly" to citizens "displaced by Hurricane Katrina." I must admit, he sounded rather compassionate today. On September 2 and September 5, 2005, he acted as if could not relate to the people in need. Here's a White House transcript of his address to the survivors of Hurricane Katrina.

By the way, the steps he's taking now to help the survivors do not excuse the fact that the Administration waited four or five days to help people get out of New Orleans.

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September 6, 2005

How Bush Handled Katrina Aftermath is Big News in Europe

Canadian Journalist Doug Saunders contends in a September 6, 2005 article in The Globe and Mail of Toronto that, "If you want to find out how far the ripples from hurricane Katrina extend, look far beyond Louisiana and Mississippi and into the central precincts of Berlin, where the storm has now reached the high-water mark of German politics."

It's playing heavily all over Europe. Here's more.

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September 5, 2005

Weighing the Political Fallout From Katrina

James G. Lakely of The Washington Times reported September 5, 2005, that "Politics is on the minds of many as the federal government comes under fire for not responding fast enough to the devastation caused along the Gulf Coast last week by Hurricane Katrina." Here's his analysis.

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Blaming the Locals

Joe Gandelman at The Moderate Voice noted today that,

As troops moved into New Orleans with a firm mandate to restore order and help in rescues, a political battle was shaping up amid efforts by the administration to launch a massive public relations campaign.

"There seem to be two prongs here," Gandelman said. "(1)step up efforts to alleviate the situation and show movement in terms of top officials physically out there and talking to the media, (2)increasingly assert that state and local authorities were if not partly to blame, then largely to blame for what is shaping up as one of the biggest and most ineptly handled natural disasters in American history.

Blaming local and state officials sounds like a Karl Rove strategy.

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Trashing Rehnquist

The prestigious Economist magazine of London stated today that,

Even his ideological opponents agreed that William Rehnquist was an honest and fair-minded man who ran a tight ship as the top judge on Americas Supreme Court.
That's not exactly accurate. One of the meanest articles I've seen on Rehnquist was penned by Professor Alan Dershowitz, who has become quite a curmudgeon in recent years, and intolerant when it comes to critics of Israel.

While the things Dershowitz wrote about Rehnquist are probably true, is it necessary to remind us of it hours after his death? I'm sure it could have waited until next week.

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Will Court Moves Give Bush Political High Ground?

Los Angeles Times staff writer Ronald Brownstein told his readers today that, "At a moment of weakness for the White House, the Supreme Court vacancy left by the death of Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist could offer President Bush an opportunity to reassert his influence and regain momentum."

I'd be surprised if it does, at least anytime soon. Here's Brownstein's analysis.

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Criticism Forces Bush to Return to the Gulf Coast

After President George W. Bush nominated Federal appeals court judge John G. Roberts, Jr. on September 5, 2005 to replace the late William Rehnquist as the 17th chief justice of the United States, he immediately left for a second tour of the Gulf Coast of the U.S., to inspect the hurricane relief work taking place there. This time he will visit Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Poplarville, Mississippi, according to The Associated Press.

Mr. Bush should have responded to the crisis wrought by Hurricane Katrina with the same speed he gave to finding a replacement for Rehnquist. He responded in a manner that made a difference only after receiving widespread criticism from both opponents and supporters. I wonder if his second visit is a political decision?

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September 4, 2005

The National Debate Critiques Coverage of Gulf Coast Disaster

Robert Cox at The National Debate has interesting and critical posts on media coverage of Hurricane Katrina and the Bush Administration's response to it. Take a look at it.

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An 'After-Action Analysis' of Bush's Handling of Gulf Coast Disaster

Tom Watson has a potent "After-Action Analysis" of President Bush's shameful handling of the disaster in New Orleans that has shown the world the United States wears beautiful suits over dirty drawers. He wrote in a September 4, 2005 post:

George Bush is President of this country for another three and a half years. We have no parliamentary out clause, no hope of changing governments, of replacing an obviously ill-suited fool - we are stuck with the title of President Bush. But the power of the Bush presidency is at an ebb; he will never again hold the moral high ground, never again lead the American people, never again speak for more than the narrowest minority of Americans.
Watson said, Bush "has failed, and will go on forever in history as one of the worst men to have ever held the office."

That's strong stuff, and it's timely. I think history will bear him out.

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Joel Achenbach Looks at 'Race and Katrina'

Joel Achenbach over at Achenblog, says "

Katrina has become a story about race in America. Most affluent and semi-affluent Americans rarely see poor people -- they live on the other side of town. The poor of the Deep South, largely black, haven't been front and center in American consciousness since the 1960s. Katrina has changed that.
He said, "Even though it's a painful and rancorous issue, maybe some good will come out of it (predictable upbeat happy note). [A minute ago I caught myself on the verge of using the phrase "well-meaning whites" and had a Dave B. thought: "The Well-Meaning Whites" would make a great name for a rock band.]"

Achenbach, a Washington Post columnist, raises several points worth pondering. Will the politics of race resurface? Stay tuned. See "Race and Katrina" for more.

Also see the responses from Achenbach's readers.

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The Opinion Gazette's Coverage of Katrina's Aftermath

There is extensive coverage of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina at The Opinion Gazette, one of my other blogs.

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White House Buck-Passing

Josh Marshall's TPM Cafe has a good thread going called "Pick Apart the White House's Buck-Passing." It's worth taking a look at it.

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Will Katrina Do Much Damage to the U.S. Economy?

What is the economic significance of Hurricane Katrina?" asks Anatole Kaletsky at The Times Online of London

"Politically," he contends in a September 05, 2005 Economic View article headlined "Katrina will hit eurozone finances hard," "it may be the biggest event since 9/11 but its economic impact is likely to be smaller, at least in the US."

"Oddly," he argues, " the economic effects will probably be worst outside America, especially in the eurozone."

For what it's worth, Kaletsky argument probably has some merit for students of economics.

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Creating a God Out of Alan Greenspan

Journalist William Greider takes a critical look at the legacy of Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan in an article in the September 19, 2005 issue of The Nation. He wrote:

When Alan Greenspan retires as Federal Reserve chairman early next year, we can expect waves of adulation for his extraordinary eighteen-year reign over the American economy. The financial press is already offering nostalgic retrospectives on the highlights: the crash of '87 and rapid rebound, the chairman's total victory over price inflation, his swift interventions to avoid financial panics and to reverse the stock market's massive meltdown of 2000-01.
Greider said, "In tempestuous times, this Fed chairman acquired a godlike aura--the inscrutable wizard with a nerdish charisma, his wisdom cloaked in financial doubletalk. How will the nation get along without him? Here's Greider's analysis.

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Frank Rich Says Bush's Response to New Orleans Was Characteristic

No columnist in the United States seems to capture the essence of President George W. Bush the way New York Times Sunday Op-Ed columnist Frank Rich does. He noted in his September 4, 2005 column:

As the levees cracked open and ushered hell into New Orleans on Tuesday, President George W. Bush once again chose to fly away from Washington, not toward it, while disaster struck. We can all enumerate the many differences between a natural catastrophe and a terrorist attack. But character doesn't change: It is immutable, and it is destiny.
Well said. Here's the column.

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Bush Tries to Regain Lost Political Ground

Tim Reid , The Times Online of London's Washington correspondent, told that publication's readers in a September 5, 2005 dispatch that President George W. Bush, "facing the lowest poll ratings of his presidency, again conceded during his weekly radio address on Saturday [September 4, 2005] for the first time televised live from the Rose Garden that the response [to Hurricane Katrina] had been unacceptable."

"But in doing so," Reid wrote, "he sought to shift the blame to state and local officials. The tactic showed that, despite the overhaul of the nations emergency agencies after September 11, the chain of command responding to a large-scale disaster is unclear and mired in bureaucracy."

The weakness of Mr. Bush's plan was clearly exposed by the lack of action for four days after thousands of Americans became refugees in New Orleans and Mississippi.

Here's more of Reid's article.

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Katrina and Bush's Increasingly Bitter Political Challenges

The International Herald Tribune reports in its September 5, 2005 issue that,

President George W. Bush faced increasingly bitter political challenges Sunday [September 4, 2005] from local and state officials in the battered Gulf Coast [of the United States] as he struggled to show mastery over a disaster that his administration now acknowledges almost surely claimed thousands of lives and had yet to bare its full, ugly toll.
Hopefully, the political challenges will get tougher and produce drastic political consequences for Mr. Bush and anyone else responsible for not providing assistance to the people of the Gulf Coast sooner than they did.

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Speculation Abounds On Bush's Choice to Replace Rehnquist

Neil A. Lewis of The New York Times reports that, "The likelihood that President George W. Bush will turn to a Hispanic candidate like Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, or another minority lawyer or woman to fill the newest vacancy on the Supreme Court has increased greatly, Republicans and former White House officials said Sunday." Here's his analysis.

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Will Current Events Make Bush's High Court Choice Difficult?

Joan Biskupic at USA TODAY reported September 4, 2005 that,

The White House had long been preparing to name a successor to Chief Justice William Rehnquist, who was diagnosed with thyroid cancer nearly a year ago. But the national tragedy on the Gulf Coast and impending confirmation hearings for John Roberts to succeed Sandra Day O'Connor seriously complicate President Bush's choice.
Mr. Rehnquist died September 4, 2005. Here's more of Biskupic's analysis.

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September 3, 2005

FEMA Turns Down Most of Chicago's Help

Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley is pissed-off at the Federal Government for tuning down 99.9 percent of the help the city offered for disaster relief in New Orleans.

The only thing the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) wanted, according to the Chicago Sun-Times, was a single tanker "to support an Illinois-based medical team, was en route Friday" to New Orleans.

"We are ready to provide more help than they have requested, Daley said. "We are just waiting for their call."Daley, adding that he was "shocked" that no one seemed to want the help.

According to the Sun-Times: "Daley said the city offered 36 members of the firefighters' technical rescue teams, eight emergency medical technicians, search-and-rescue equipment, more than 100 police officers as well as police vehicles and two boats, 29 clinical and 117 non-clinical health workers, a mobile clinic and eight trained personnel, 140 Streets and Sanitation workers and 29 trucks, plus other supplies. City personnel are willing to operate self-sufficiently and would not depend on local authorities for food, water, shelter and other supplies."

Here's more.

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Obama May Call Hearings on Feds Slow Response to Katrina

U.S. Senator Barack Obama (D-Ill.) intends to call for congressional hearings into the Bush Administration's "preparations and response" to Hurricane Katrina, which devastated the Gulf Coast of the United States, according to the September 3, 2005 issue of the Chicago Sun-Times.
"The response was achingly slow, and that, I think, is a view shared by Democrats, Republicans, wealthy and poor, black and white," Obama said. "I have not met anybody who has watched this crisis evolve over the last several days who is not just furious at how poorly prepared we appeared to be." Here's more.

Here is Obama's official statement on Katrina.

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Criticism Mounts Over Bush's Slow Response to New Orleans

Susan Milligan of the Boston Globe reported September 3, 2005 that,

As President Bush surveyed the damage wrought by Hurricane Katrina yesterday [September 2, 2005], a political storm brewed in Washington, unleashing a bipartisan wave of anger that started with the government's slow response to the disaster and extended to the war in Iraq, high gas prices, and race.
It's going to get worse for Mr. Bush and other politicians. And it should. There is absolutely now excuse for the slow response in getting help to New Orleans. Here's more.

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Despite Bush Claim, New Orleans Levee Breach Was Anticipated

Some newspapers and other news outlets in the United States downplayed President George W. Bush's September 1, 2005 claim in an interview with ABC New's Diane Sawyer that:

I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees (in New Orleans). They did anticipate a serious storm. But these levees got breached, and as a result, much of New Orleans is flooded. And now we are having to deal with it and will.
A few news outlets, according to Media Matters for America (MMFA), did challenged Mr. Bush's claims." For indepth coverage on this issue, see this MMFA article on The New Times' failure to contradict Mr. Bush's claim.

Also see "News outlets downplay Bush administration's failure to prepare for and respond to Hurricane Katrina."

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September 2, 2005

Representative Ford: Put Powell or Giuliani in Charge of FEMA

On September 2, 2005, U.S. Representative Harold Ford (Democrat, Tennessee) told The

I call on President Bush to remove [FEMA] Director [Mike] Brown immediately and appoint a single person to be in charge of the relief effort. This person must have cabinet-level authority and leadership necessary to direct all military, homeland security, FEMA, fire, police, EMT, health, energy and environmental assets and personnel involved in the relief effort. In addition, he or she must have the authority to coordinate private and non-profit aid, with government efforts.
Ford wants Bush to appoint "Someone like Colin Powell, whose logistical expertise and steadfast determination helped guide our military through war, or Rudolph Giuliani, whose leadership and passion were instrumental in getting New York back on its feet after 9/11, would be ideal. The President should appoint such a person for enough time - perhaps 60 days - to put our relief effort in order. After such time, the President could appoint a permanent replacement."

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