September 4, 2005


Mary Landrieu: I'll Punch Bush, 'Literally' (, Sept. 4, 2005)

Sen. Mary Landrieu threatened the president of the United States with physical violence on Sunday, saying that if he or any other government official criticizes New Orleans police for failing to keep civil order in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina - "I might likely have to punch him - literally."

"If one person criticizes [our sheriffs], or says one more thing, including the president of the United States, he will hear from me - one more word about it after this show airs and I - I might likely have to punch him - literally," Landrieu railed on "ABC's "This Week."

Of course, she and her family helped make LA and N.O. the places they are.

Of course, the current mayor completely eschews responsibility for anything that's occurred, General roars into action in New Orleans (Associated Press, 9/04/05)

When the cavalry finally arrived in New Orleans to help the survivors of Hurricane Katrina, a cigar-chomping three-star general led the way.

That was Lt. Gen. Russel Honore, commander of the 1st Army, based at Fort Gillem in Atlanta. Normally he oversees training for all deploying troops on the East Coast.

For the time being, the Louisiana native is the man in charge on the front line in New Orleans. He is also coordinating military relief efforts for all storm-ravaged areas along the Gulf Coast.

Honore is winning over even some of the government's harshest critics, including New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, who blasted the Bush administration's initial response to his city's disaster.

"He came off the doggone chopper, and he started cussing, and people started moving," Nagin told a radio station. "I give the president some credit on this. He sent one John Wayne dude down here that can get some stuff done."

It'd be nice if Mr. Nagin deserved any credit for getting some stuff done.

Many Evacuated, but Thousands Still Waiting (Manuel Roig-Franzia and Spencer Hsu, 9/04/05, Washington Post)

Behind the scenes, a power struggle emerged, as federal officials tried to wrest authority from Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco (D). Shortly before midnight Friday, the Bush administration sent her a proposed legal memorandum asking her to request a federal takeover of the evacuation of New Orleans, a source within the state's emergency operations center said Saturday.

The administration sought unified control over all local police and state National Guard units reporting to the governor. Louisiana officials rejected the request after talks throughout the night, concerned that such a move would be comparable to a federal declaration of martial law. Some officials in the state suspected a political motive behind the request. "Quite frankly, if they'd been able to pull off taking it away from the locals, they then could have blamed everything on the locals," said the source, who does not have the authority to speak publicly.

A senior administration official said that Bush has clear legal authority to federalize National Guard units to quell civil disturbances under the Insurrection Act and will continue to try to unify the chains of command that are split among the president, the Louisiana governor and the New Orleans mayor.

Louisiana did not reach out to a multi-state mutual aid compact for assistance until Wednesday, three state and federal officials said. As of Saturday, Blanco still had not declared a state of emergency, the senior Bush official said.

"The federal government stands ready to work with state and local officials to secure New Orleans and the state of Louisiana," White House spokesman Dan Bartlett said. "The president will not let any form of bureaucracy get in the way of protecting the citizens of Louisiana."

Blanco made two moves Saturday that protected her independence from the federal government: She created a philanthropic fund for the state's victims and hired James Lee Witt, Federal Emergency Management Agency director in the Clinton administration, to advise her on the relief effort.

Bush, who has been criticized, even by supporters, for the delayed response to the disaster, used his weekly radio address to put responsibility for the failure on lower levels of government. The magnitude of the crisis "has created tremendous problems that have strained state and local capabilities," he said. "The result is that many of our citizens simply are not getting the help they need, especially in New Orleans. And that is unacceptable."

In a Washington briefing, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said one reason federal assets were not used more quickly was "because our constitutional system really places the primary authority in each state with the governor."

She wants to keep responsibility so she won't be blamed? How's that work?

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 4, 2005 12:26 PM

"He sent one John Wayne dude down here that can get some stuff done."

Too bad the residents of New Orleans put Gabby Hayes in charge before.

Posted by: AC at September 4, 2005 12:45 PM

One of the critcisms of the Bush administration, post 9/11, was they didn't either hold Clinton holdovers like Tenet or Minetta accountable or finger-point at that administration's lack of action against terrorism, which at the time, also produced a reaction by Democrats of muting their partisanship against the administration. I would suspect that's what the Bush people will be trying to do here, as it concerns what folks on their side, like Chertoff or Michael Brown did or didn't do, and what people on the Democrats' side at the state and local level, like Nagin or Gov. Blanco, did or didn't do, so that if any heads roll, it's done quietly.

Obviously, national Democrats have very little stake in southern Louisiana politics, and are going to play hardball on this one. But Mary Landreau probably needs to be a little more careful in what she says, because if she starts trying to absolve the local and state pols for any responsability at all in this crisis, those people are going to be the ones hung out to dry when a comprehensive report on the pre- and post-storm failures comes out.

Posted by: John at September 4, 2005 12:51 PM

The Dem screaming is an attempt to divert attention/blame from the Dem governor and Dem NO mayor. The comparison between NO/LA and Mississippi and Alabama is becoming more apparent.

I didn't think very highly of Landreau before but considered her a middle of the road Dem senator. If she goes overboard attacking the GOP on this they should work to get her ousted as soon as possible.

Posted by: AWW at September 4, 2005 12:51 PM

John - we posted at the same time.

LA has voted red in the past few presidential elections but still has a large Dem constituency (I think Dems still outnumber GOP as far as registration). They have a Dem governor, a Dem NO mayor, 1 Dem senator, and some of the Congresspeople are Dems. I believe the GOP senator elected in '04 (Vitter) was the first GOP senator from LA since reconstruction.

In sum LA is trending red but the Dems still have some seats to lose here, particularly Landreau's.

Posted by: AWW at September 4, 2005 12:54 PM

Brown's a dead man walking.

Posted by: oj at September 4, 2005 12:57 PM

The "Great Society" chickens have come home to roost.

Posted by: David at September 4, 2005 1:06 PM

AWW --

I posted in another thread that due to Louisiana's election cycle, the only high-profile Republican who comes up in Louisana before 2008 is Bobby Jindal, who lost the governor's election to Blanco two years ago. It's really hard to see the voters teeing off on him due to their presumed anger with everyone over this debacle, including Blanco.

Also, over on NBC, they had Aaron Broussard, president of Jefferson Parish, La., who broke down crying when telling about the delays in rescuing the mother of one of his parish's employees, who drowned. Very emotional, but just before that, Broussard all but absolved Gov. Blanco of any culpability in the disaster, and pinned all the blame on FEMA.

Broussard's a Democrat, but one who endorsed Jindal for Congress, so this may be more of a case of covering for your own local pols and blaming faceless outsiders than trying to play partisan politics. But if the area's politicans try to put themselves in the victim role of an incompetent federal bureacracy, the details that emerge are going to be more forcefully against them than if they simply keep their own fingers lowered and stop pointing at others.

Posted by: John at September 4, 2005 1:13 PM


They didn't elect Senator Landrieu for her mind (ahem).

Posted by: AC at September 4, 2005 1:23 PM

IIRC, the ONLY reason that she was elected was an AM conf. call between Bubba, LA's Jesse J, and her campaign.

They went to the bowling alleys, salons, etc, and dragged them to the polls. Tide turned around 4:30 PM, IIRC.

She voted against vouchers and gave a really snippy comment to black supporters of school choice after the vote. something along the lines of even w/the vouchers you wouldn't be able to send your children to a school like my childrens. Because her school cost about $20K/yr, IIRC.

Posted by: Sandy P at September 4, 2005 1:29 PM

Ironic, isn't it, how they found all those buses 2 years ago to bring all those minorities to the polls on election day to ensure Landrieu's victory, but couldn't muster 250 school buses to evacuate the poor and handicapped the day BEFORE the hurricane.

Posted by: obc at September 4, 2005 2:18 PM

What will happen in La politics, now that the voters of New Orleans are scattered all over the rest of the South? Many will stay in Texas to rebuild, and many will set down permanent roots where they land.

Posted by: Stormy70 at September 4, 2005 2:34 PM

Let's not forget that 80% of New Orleans did evacuate, and they will be hearing about this fiasco second-hand. Most of those folks are middle-class, and a lot less dependent on the political power structure. What happens if/when they return? Is so much of the present low level fingerpointing being done for their benefit, to forestall them from taking out their wrath on the incompetent finger-pointers?

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at September 4, 2005 3:43 PM

Stormy - I believe LA is like a lot of states where Dems control the cities but the GOP the suburbs. If indeed the Dems lose power due to Katrina/less power in NO look for the Dems to believe Katrina was part of a Rovian plot.

Posted by: AWW at September 4, 2005 4:49 PM

What if terrorists had put bombs on the levees in NO? I don't think the Dems are going to try to make the case that this was some kind of Bush conspiracy, but they certainly can make the case that the administration has made some decisions that are inconsistent with its promises of making American safe. Its been known for quite some time that NO was such a sensitive area, and that a disaster there would have serious national consequences.
My real question is why the oil companies on the Gulf coast have not pushed to ensure the saftey of their investments? Unless, this disaster, and the rise in the price of gas, has been profitable...

Posted by: Rod at September 4, 2005 5:54 PM


Their union bosses are a different matter.

Posted by: oj at September 4, 2005 6:29 PM

I saw Jesse Jackson on TV (where else?) and he was upset because people were being spread out all over the country. He wanted them all housed together at abandoned military bases. This is a chance for people to rebuild a better life far away from the likes of him, and I think he recognizes the ramifications of the mass exodus from NOLA. Good.

People at the Astrodome are very impressed with the city of Houston, and the cleaness of the facilities. One guy said it was like being at a convention, "a convention of refugees." On the local news, The Potter House sent buses for 500 people to attend church services, and will continue to send them so people can attend regular church services. They also had a place where people could pick up donated items. One lady said she felt like she was at home. One man said he loves Texas, and he will stay here forever. Another said he saw the house you could buy for $150,000, "a freaking mansion" he called it. Those people are not going to go back, once they are back on their feet. I'll quit now.

Posted by: Stormy70 at September 4, 2005 6:58 PM

Of course The Reverend Jackson wants to keep people together and bottled up in refugee camps. He's seen how well it worked for the Palestinians and Yassir Arafat in particular in keeping a large set of people permanently ignorant and hostile and dependent. It's about the only way left for him to have any of the political power he craves.

(And it s nice to see we've finally got a troll who wants to make oblique references to Big Oil being somehow in the chain of blame.)

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at September 4, 2005 7:34 PM

A little sliver of silver lining.

People got out of Dodge and saw how the rest of us live. In an earlier post a commenter asked how the non-moonbat liberals will learn the truth.

Here are people who are seeing things for themselves and maybe for the first time in their lives taking the responsibility for their future.

The news will get around.

Posted by: erp [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 4, 2005 9:56 PM

From Mr. Perlsteins link to the National Response Plan:


As a State’s chief executive, the Governor is responsible for the public safety and welfare of the people of that State or territory. The Governor:

-- Is responsible for coordinating State resources to address the full spectrum of actions to prevent, prepare for, respond to, and recover from incidents in an all-hazards context to include terrorism, natural disasters, accidents, and other contingencies;

-- Under certain emergency conditions, typically has police powers to make, amend, and rescind orders and regulations;

-- Provides leadership and plays a key role in communicating to the public and in helping people, businesses, and organizations cope with the consequences of any type of declared emergency within State jurisdiction;

-- Encourages participation in mutual aid and implements authorities for the State to enter into mutual aid agreements with other States, tribes, and territories to facilitate resource-sharing;

-- Is the Commander-in-Chief of State military forces (National Guard when in State Active Duty or Title 32 Status and the authorized State militias); and Local Chief Executive Officer

or maybe this:

A mayor or city or county manager, as a jurisdiction’s chief executive, is responsible for the public safety and welfare of the people of that jurisdiction. The Local Chief Executive Officer:

-- Is responsible for coordinating local resources to address the full spectrum of actions to prevent, prepare for, respond to, and recover from incidents involving all hazards including terrorism, natural disasters, accidents, and other contingencies;

-- Dependent upon State and local law, has extraordinary powers to suspend local laws and ordinances, such as to establish a curfew, direct evacuations, and, in coordination with the local health authority, to order a quarantine;

-- Provides leadership and plays a key role in communicating to the public, and in helping people, businesses, and organizations cope with the consequences of any type of domestic incident within the jurisdiction;

-- Negotiates and enters into mutual aid agreements with other jurisdictions to facilitate resource-sharing; and

-- Requests State and, if necessary, Federal assistance through the Governor of the State when the jurisdiction’s capabilities have been exceeded or exhausted.

So, who do you think more incompetent - the Dem mayor or the Dem governor?

PS - The dips are citing this doc all over the place in the hope that no one will read it - it's from page 8 of a 114 page summary of bureaucratese mixed with flow charts. (The detailed plan is a svelte 426 page doc.)

Posted by: Rick Ballard [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 4, 2005 10:05 PM

Anybody who has dealt with Federal documents of this type knows that for something like this, a 114 page summary leaves out a lot, and that a 426 page plan is suspiciously short. And that usually you've got to go through the actual plan closely and parse just about every sentence and examine every chart to find out what they really want to do.

At least that's how it was back when I was getting NPS and BLM documents (in paper, not PDF docs), and those were just "Master Plans" and "Environmental Assessments" for a few hundred acres or a few miles of road.

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at September 4, 2005 10:41 PM


Posted by: JOE MCGOWAN at September 5, 2005 1:30 PM