September 16, 2005


Mr. Bush in New Orleans (NY Times, 9/16/05)

President Bush said three things last night that desperately needed to be said. He forthrightly acknowledged his responsibility for the egregious mishandling of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. He spoke clearly and candidly about race and poverty. And finally, he was clear about what would be needed to bring back the Gulf Coast and said the federal government would have to lead and pay for that effort.

Once again, as he did after 9/11, Mr. Bush has responded to disaster with disconcerting uncertainty, then risen to the occasion later. Once again, he has delivered a speech that will reassure many Americans that he understands the enormity of the event and the demands of leadership to come.

Epiphany for a president (Henry C K Liu, 9/16/05, Asia Times)
On Thursday night, the president of the United States, the strongest nation in the world, spoke with the forceful leadership worthy of the awesome power of his office. For the first time in his presidency, George W Bush told the American people and the world that the American spirit of courage, community, equity and unbound optimism is alive and well, and he intends to galvanize that spirit towards a noble national purpose of reconstruction. "I as president am responsible for the problem, and for the solution," he said.

President Seeks to Revive a Region -- and His Image (Doyle McManus, 9/16/05, LA Times)
[A]mong many Republicans, the fiscal cost of rebuilding the Gulf Coast appeared modest compared with the potential political cost of appearing tight-fisted in the face of suffering.

"He can come down firmly on the side of bold dramatic change, in which case he will be in the Teddy Roosevelt tradition, or he can tolerate bureaucratic inadequacies and defend the indefensible, in which case the Democrats will win in 2006 and 2008," said Newt Gingrich, a former speaker of the House.

"He has to be a problem-solver, and if it requires money, you have to do it," said Kenneth M. Duberstein, who served as chief of staff to President Reagan. Appearing unresponsive, he added, is "the last thing they can risk."

"If some of your base gets unhinged — well, you can always make the argument that it's better for a Republican to do it than a Democrat," Duberstein said.

But there was little sign of dissent from most of Bush's Republican base in Congress, where members have been increasingly nervous about their party's fortunes in next year's midterm election.

Rep. Tom DeLay of Texas, the House Republican leader, even suggested that deficit spending on public works would be good for the economy — a sentiment that once was thought to define the Democratic Party, not the GOP.

"It is right to borrow to pay for it," DeLay said. "But it is not right to attack the very economy that will pay for it." [...]

[T]he president and his aides offered considerable detail on the menu of new programs they planned to propose to help the people of the Gulf Coast rebuild their homes and businesses — an enterprise zone stretching across three states.

Those proposals include a Gulf Opportunity Zone, offering tax incentives and loans for small businesses; Worker Recovery Accounts, providing as much as $5,000 a person for education, job training and child care; and an urban homesteading initiative, giving federally owned property to aspiring homeowners through a lottery.

Those ideas are, in effect, disaster-relief versions of proposals Bush made during his first term and in his 2004 campaign — proposals for urban enterprise zones, home-ownership subsidies for low-income families and job-training accounts.

Those programs, known collectively as the "ownership society," have not fared especially well in Congress so far. The first phase, Bush's proposal for sweeping changes in Social Security, appears to be dying a quiet legislative death.

Hurricane Katrina may have offered the ideas a new lease on life.

You'd think the cock would eventually figure out that the sun comes up every day and stop acting so surprised.

President Discusses Hurricane Relief in Address to the Nation (George W. Bush, Jackson Square, New Orleans, Louisiana)

Good evening. I'm speaking to you from the city of New Orleans -- nearly empty, still partly under water, and waiting for life and hope to return. Eastward from Lake Pontchartrain, across the Mississippi coast, to Alabama into Florida, millions of lives were changed in a day by a cruel and wasteful storm.

In the aftermath, we have seen fellow citizens left stunned and uprooted, searching for loved ones, and grieving for the dead, and looking for meaning in a tragedy that seems so blind and random. We've also witnessed the kind of desperation no citizen of this great and generous nation should ever have to know -- fellow Americans calling out for food and water, vulnerable people left at the mercy of criminals who had no mercy, and the bodies of the dead lying uncovered and untended in the street.

These days of sorrow and outrage have also been marked by acts of courage and kindness that make all Americans proud. Coast Guard and other personnel rescued tens of thousands of people from flooded neighborhoods. Religious congregations and families have welcomed strangers as brothers and sisters and neighbors. In the community of Chalmette, when two men tried to break into a home, the owner invited them to stay -- and took in 15 other people who had no place to go. At Tulane Hospital for Children, doctors and nurses did not eat for days so patients could have food, and eventually carried the patients on their backs up eight flights of stairs to helicopters.

Many first responders were victims themselves, wounded healers, with a sense of duty greater than their own suffering. When I met Steve Scott of the Biloxi Fire Department, he and his colleagues were conducting a house-to-house search for survivors. Steve told me this: "I lost my house and I lost my cars, but I still got my family ... and I still got my spirit."

Across the Gulf Coast, among people who have lost much, and suffered much, and given to the limit of their power, we are seeing that same spirit -- a core of strength that survives all hurt, a faith in God no storm can take away, and a powerful American determination to clear the ruins and build better than before.

Tonight so many victims of the hurricane and the flood are far from home and friends and familiar things. You need to know that our whole nation cares about you, and in the journey ahead you're not alone. To all who carry a burden of loss, I extend the deepest sympathy of our country. To every person who has served and sacrificed in this emergency, I offer the gratitude of our country. And tonight I also offer this pledge of the American people: Throughout the area hit by the hurricane, we will do what it takes, we will stay as long as it takes, to help citizens rebuild their communities and their lives. And all who question the future of the Crescent City need to know there is no way to imagine America without New Orleans, and this great city will rise again.

The work of rescue is largely finished; the work of recovery is moving forward. In nearly all of Mississippi, electric power has been restored. Trade is starting to return to the Port of New Orleans, and agricultural shipments are moving down the Mississippi River. All major gasoline pipelines are now in operation, preventing the supply disruptions that many feared. The breaks in the levees have been closed, the pumps are running, and the water here in New Orleans is receding by the hour. Environmental officials are on the ground, taking water samples, identifying and dealing with hazardous debris, and working to get drinking water and waste water treatment systems operating again. And some very sad duties are being carried out by professionals who gather the dead, treat them with respect, and prepare them for their rest.

In the task of recovery and rebuilding, some of the hardest work is still ahead, and it will require the creative skill and generosity of a united country.

Our first commitment is to meet the immediate needs of those who had to flee their homes and leave all their possessions behind. For these Americans, every night brings uncertainty, every day requires new courage, and in the months to come will bring more than their fair share of struggles.

The Department of Homeland Security is registering evacuees who are now in shelters and churches, or private homes, whether in the Gulf region or far away. I have signed an order providing immediate assistance to people from the disaster area. As of today, more than 500,000 evacuee families have gotten emergency help to pay for food, clothing, and other essentials. Evacuees who have not yet registered should contact FEMA or the Red Cross. We need to know who you are, because many of you will be eligible for broader assistance in the future. Many families were separated during the evacuation, and we are working to help you reunite. Please call this number: 1-877-568-3317 -- that's 1-877-568-3317 -- and we will work to bring your family back together, and pay for your travel to reach them.

In addition, we're taking steps to ensure that evacuees do not have to travel great distances or navigate bureaucracies to get the benefits that are there for them. The Department of Health and Human Services has sent more than 1,500 health professionals, along with over 50 tons of medical supplies -- including vaccines and antibiotics and medicines for people with chronic conditions such as diabetes. The Social Security Administration is delivering checks. The Department of Labor is helping displaced persons apply for temporary jobs and unemployment benefits. And the Postal Service is registering new addresses so that people can get their mail.

To carry out the first stages of the relief effort and begin rebuilding at once, I have asked for, and the Congress has provided, more than $60 billion. This is an unprecedented response to an unprecedented crisis, which demonstrates the compassion and resolve of our nation.

Our second commitment is to help the citizens of the Gulf Coast to overcome this disaster, put their lives back together, and rebuild their communities. Along this coast, for mile after mile, the wind and water swept the land clean. In Mississippi, many thousands of houses were damaged or destroyed. In New Orleans and surrounding parishes, more than a quarter-million houses are no longer safe to live in. Hundreds of thousands of people from across this region will need to find longer-term housing.

Our goal is to get people out of the shelters by the middle of October. So we're providing direct assistance to evacuees that allows them to rent apartments, and many already are moving into places of their own. A number of states have taken in evacuees and shown them great compassion -- admitting children to school, and providing health care. So I will work with the Congress to ensure that states are reimbursed for these extra expenses.

In the disaster area, and in cities that have received huge numbers of displaced people, we're beginning to bring in mobile homes and trailers for temporary use. To relieve the burden on local health care facilities in the region, we're sending extra doctors and nurses to these areas. We're also providing money that can be used to cover overtime pay for police and fire departments while the cities and towns rebuild.

Near New Orleans, and Biloxi, and other cities, housing is urgently needed for police and firefighters, other service providers, and the many workers who are going to rebuild these cities. Right now, many are sleeping on ships we have brought to the Port of New Orleans -- and more ships are on their way to the region. And we'll provide mobile homes, and supply them with basic services, as close to construction areas as possible, so the rebuilding process can go forward as quickly as possible.

And the federal government will undertake a close partnership with the states of Louisiana and Mississippi, the city of New Orleans, and other Gulf Coast cities, so they can rebuild in a sensible, well-planned way. Federal funds will cover the great majority of the costs of repairing public infrastructure in the disaster zone, from roads and bridges to schools and water systems. Our goal is to get the work done quickly. And taxpayers expect this work to be done honestly and wisely -- so we'll have a team of inspectors general reviewing all expenditures.

In the rebuilding process, there will be many important decisions and many details to resolve, yet we're moving forward according to some clear principles. The federal government will be fully engaged in the mission, but Governor Barbour, Governor Blanco, Mayor Nagin, and other state and local leaders will have the primary role in planning for their own future. Clearly, communities will need to move decisively to change zoning laws and building codes, in order to avoid a repeat of what we've seen. And in the work of rebuilding, as many jobs as possible should go to the men and women who live in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama.

Our third commitment is this: When communities are rebuilt, they must be even better and stronger than before the storm. Within the Gulf region are some of the most beautiful and historic places in America. As all of us saw on television, there's also some deep, persistent poverty in this region, as well. That poverty has roots in a history of racial discrimination, which cut off generations from the opportunity of America. We have a duty to confront this poverty with bold action. So let us restore all that we have cherished from yesterday, and let us rise above the legacy of inequality. When the streets are rebuilt, there should be many new businesses, including minority-owned businesses, along those streets. When the houses are rebuilt, more families should own, not rent, those houses. When the regional economy revives, local people should be prepared for the jobs being created.

Americans want the Gulf Coast not just to survive, but to thrive; not just to cope, but to overcome. We want evacuees to come home, for the best of reasons -- because they have a real chance at a better life in a place they love.

When one resident of this city who lost his home was asked by a reporter if he would relocate, he said, "Naw, I will rebuild -- but I will build higher." That is our vision for the future, in this city and beyond: We'll not just rebuild, we'll build higher and better. To meet this goal, I will listen to good ideas from Congress, and state and local officials, and the private sector. I believe we should start with three initiatives that the Congress should pass.

Tonight I propose the creation of a Gulf Opportunity Zone, encompassing the region of the disaster in Louisiana and Mississippi and Alabama. 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.

In the long run, the New Orleans area has a particular challenge, because much of the city lies below sea level. The people who call it home need to have reassurance that their lives will be safer in the years to come. Protecting a city that sits lower than the water around it is not easy, but it can, and has been done. City and parish officials in New Orleans, and state officials in Louisiana will have a large part in the engineering decisions to come. And the Army Corps of Engineers will work at their side to make the flood protection system stronger than it has ever been.

The work that has begun in the Gulf Coast region will be one of the largest reconstruction efforts the world has ever seen. When that job is done, all Americans will have something to be very proud of -- and all Americans are needed in this common effort. It is the armies of compassion -- charities and houses of worship, and idealistic men and women -- that give our reconstruction effort its humanity. They offer to those who hurt a friendly face, an arm around the shoulder, and the reassurance that in hard times, they can count on someone who cares. By land, by sea, and by air, good people wanting to make a difference deployed to the Gulf Coast, and they've been working around the clock ever since.

The cash needed to support the armies of compassion is great, and Americans have given generously. For example, the private fundraising effort led by former Presidents Bush and Clinton has already received pledges of more than $100 million. Some of that money is going to the Governors to be used for immediate needs within their states. A portion will also be sent to local houses of worship to help reimburse them for the expense of helping others. This evening the need is still urgent, and I ask the American people to continue donating to the Salvation Army, the Red Cross, other good charities, and religious congregations in the region.

It's also essential for the many organizations of our country to reach out to your fellow citizens in the Gulf area. So I've asked USA Freedom Corps to create an information clearinghouse, available at, so that families anywhere in the country can find opportunities to help families in the region, or a school can support a school. And I challenge existing organizations -- churches, and Scout troops, or labor union locals to get in touch with their counterparts in Mississippi, Louisiana, or Alabama, and learn what they can do to help. In this great national enterprise, important work can be done by everyone, and everyone should find their role and do their part.

The government of this nation will do its part, as well. Our cities must have clear and up-to-date plans for responding to natural disasters, and disease outbreaks, or a terrorist attack, for evacuating large numbers of people in an emergency, and for providing the food and water and security they would need. In a time of terror threats and weapons of mass destruction, the danger to our citizens reaches much wider than a fault line or a flood plain. I consider detailed emergency planning to be a national security priority, and therefore, I've ordered the Department of Homeland Security to undertake an immediate review, in cooperation with local counterparts, of emergency plans in every major city in America.

I also want to know all the facts about the government response to Hurricane Katrina. The storm involved a massive flood, a major supply and security operation, and an evacuation order affecting more than a million people. It was not a normal hurricane -- and the normal disaster relief system was not equal to it. Many of the men and women of the Coast Guard, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the United States military, the National Guard, Homeland Security, and state and local governments performed skillfully under the worst conditions. Yet the system, at every level of government, was not well-coordinated, and was overwhelmed in the first few days. It is now clear that a challenge on this scale requires greater federal authority and a broader role for the armed forces -- the institution of our government most capable of massive logistical operations on a moment's notice.

Four years after the frightening experience of September the 11th, Americans have every right to expect a more effective response in a time of emergency. When the federal government fails to meet such an obligation, I, as President, am responsible for the problem, and for the solution. So I've ordered every Cabinet Secretary to participate in a comprehensive review of the government response to the hurricane. This government will learn the lessons of Hurricane Katrina. We're going to review every action and make necessary changes, so that we are better prepared for any challenge of nature, or act of evil men, that could threaten our people.

The United States Congress also has an important oversight function to perform. Congress is preparing an investigation, and I will work with members of both parties to make sure this effort is thorough.

In the life of this nation, we have often been reminded that nature is an awesome force, and that all life is fragile. We're the heirs of men and women who lived through those first terrible winters at Jamestown and Plymouth, who rebuilt Chicago after a great fire, and San Francisco after a great earthquake, who reclaimed the prairie from the Dust Bowl of the 1930s. Every time, the people of this land have come back from fire, flood, and storm to build anew -- and to build better than what we had before. Americans have never left our destiny to the whims of nature -- and we will not start now.

These trials have also reminded us that we are often stronger than we know -- with the help of grace and one another. They remind us of a hope beyond all pain and death, a God who welcomes the lost to a house not made with hands. And they remind us that we're tied together in this life, in this nation -- and that the despair of any touches us all.

I know that when you sit on the steps of a porch where a home once stood, or sleep on a cot in a crowded shelter, it is hard to imagine a bright future. But that future will come. The streets of Biloxi and Gulfport will again be filled with lovely homes and the sound of children playing. The churches of Alabama will have their broken steeples mended and their congregations whole. And here in New Orleans, the street cars will once again rumble down St. Charles, and the passionate soul of a great city will return.

In this place, there's a custom for the funerals of jazz musicians. The funeral procession parades slowly through the streets, followed by a band playing a mournful dirge as it moves to the cemetery. Once the casket has been laid in place, the band breaks into a joyful "second line" -- symbolizing the triumph of the spirit over death. Tonight the Gulf Coast is still coming through the dirge -- yet we will live to see the second line.

Thank you, and may God bless America.

-Bush Pledges Historic Effort To Help Gulf Coast Recover (Jim VandeHei and Peter Baker, 9/16/05, Washington Post)

Even as he embraced a spending program the scale of which few Democratic presidents ever advanced, Bush signaled that he would shape its contours with policy ideas long sought by conservative thinkers. He proposed creation of a "Gulf Opportunity Zone" that would grant new and existing businesses tax breaks, loans and loan guarantees through 2007. And in documents released before the speech, Bush called for displaced families that send children to private schools, including religious ones, to be eligible for federal money.

Eighteen days after Katrina smashed through the levees here, flooding the city, killing hundreds and displacing more than 1 million, Bush endorsed most of the criticism of the government's stutter-start response to the storm and vowed to investigate and retool its emergency plans, calling in particular for "a broader role for the armed forces" in future domestic crises. He ordered his Cabinet to reexamine disaster plans for every major American city. But he seemed to embrace a Republican plan for a GOP-majority congressional inquiry rather than the independent commission sought by Democrats.

During his 26-minute speech, the president evoked the horror that Katrina wrought on the region, recalling scenes of the abandoned seeking food and water, survivors victimized a second time by looters, and "bodies of the dead lying uncovered and untended in the street." Bush likened Katrina to the worst disasters of American history, including the Chicago fire of 1871 and the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. "Every time the people of this land have come back from fire, flood and storm to build anew -- and to build better than what we had before," he said. "Americans have never left our destiny to the whims of nature, and we will not start now."

Harking back to the "compassionate conservative" rhetoric of his early presidency, Bush infused his address with religious overtones. The trials of the last few weeks, he said, "remind us of a hope beyond all pain and death, a God who welcomes the lost to a house not made with his hands." The language reflected not only Bush's own faith but also his decision to bring back Michael J. Gerson, his first-term speechwriter and now a policy adviser, to help draft perhaps his most important address since launching the Iraq war in 2003.

Biblical citations and imagery are common touchstones for the president when he tries to connect with African Americans, who polls show have been especially aggrieved by the slow federal response because the victims left behind were disproportionately poor and black. "As all of us saw on television," Bush said, "there is also some deep, persistent poverty in this region as well. That poverty has roots in a history of racial discrimination, which cut off generations from the opportunity of America. We have a duty to confront this poverty with bold action."

-Evacuees Find Comfort and Encouragement in Speech (SUSAN SAULNY, 9/16/05, NY Times)
< blockquote>Evacuees at a shelter here said they took comfort Thursday night from both the substance and the symbolism of the speech President Bush gave in the city many of them had fled.

When Mr. Bush talked about breaking the cycle of poverty and increasing the rate of home ownership on the Gulf Coast, one evacuee shouted, "Thank you! Thank you!" Others at the shelter, at the civic center in Houma, a small city southwest of New Orleans, nodded in approval at several points during the speech.

"I feel very encouraged because he's accepted responsibility, and in doing that, I feel that he has stepped up to the plate," said Evelyn Green, 58, a retired health care worker from the New Orleans area. "He touched me. I know now he's going to be there to help us rebuild our cities and towns. I take him at his word. I want to see everything he said tonight fulfilled."

Another evacuee, Muhammad Abdullah Ali, a 52-year-old security officer from New Orleans, said: "I feel that now he's going to take control and do the best he can. I felt good about the speech. It was a good speech. Now I want to see some action." [...]

Senator Mary L. Landrieu, Democrat of Louisiana, described Mr. Bush's proposals as "innovative and bold" and said: "The president picked a very inspiring spot to make this speech. The image is worth many words in terms of what Jackson Square and the cathedral mean to New Orleans and what New Orleans means to the nation."

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 16, 2005 8:18 AM

It would be nice to think the Times comprehends the scale of graft in Louisiana and understands fiscal oversight when it complains about the potential for wasteful spending on the project. But the full paragraph shows their main concern is that firms like Halliburton's Brown & Root division will get too many New Orleans infrastructure reconstruction contracts. By the end of the month, they'll be front paging the "scandal" over which big companies are getting the rebuilding deals.

Posted by: at September 16, 2005 9:32 AM

You might even say that it was the make or break speech of his career.

Posted by: David Cohen at September 16, 2005 9:45 AM

He should have given it from Bob Jones U...

Posted by: oj at September 16, 2005 9:56 AM

I can't believe there are conservatives actually cheering this speech.

We've just spent the past two weeks telling the left that its complaints were misguided because they're based on unreasonable expectations of the federal government's role.

Now it's as if the president -- and those faithfully applauding his speech -- are saying, "Yes, the left has been correct all along. This is the federal government's job. And oh yeah -- sorry we screwed up that job there at the beginning. Oopsy! You guys on the left were absolutely correct."

Posted by: SP at September 16, 2005 10:06 AM


After a disaster the federal government helps you rebuild. W is taking advantage of this one to rebuild using the various tools of the Ownership Society. And the Left is hugging the wolf because it's wearing a lambskin....

Posted by: oj at September 16, 2005 10:12 AM

Re Asia Times - "first time in his presidency" - did this guy miss 9/11?

Re all articles - according the MSM the GOP is always worried about the upcoming elections. They said it right before 2002 and 2004 despite clear signs the GOP was going to do well.

Re the spending. I'm all for smaller government but the govt has to respond to a huge disaster such as this. Conservatives whining about the spending need to understand that if Bush stood back and said "not my job" the GOP would get crushed. As has been shown repeatedly people prefer a govt that solves problems rather than no govt at all. Yes the govt wastes a lot of money (and yes the Katrina spending could be offset by cuts elsewhere) but the magnitude of Katrina requires govt action. Bush is doing as much as he can via non-profit and private sector initiatives as he can.

Posted by: AWW at September 16, 2005 10:22 AM

And if it costs $200 billion that's about the cost of the war and less than a third of just the increase in the GDP this year. It's chump change given the scale of the disaster.

Posted by: oj at September 16, 2005 10:29 AM

As OJ suggests, the Left has nothing left to say. What are they going to do now - accuse Bush of not spending enough? That won't wash in any state except LA and (perhaps) MS, which are quite red and won't change.

They can't even beat the racism drum now, because they will lose another 5% of the white vote, not to mention the Hispanics and Asians. The race pimps will scream (of course), but that is about it, and their taunts are useless.

I doubt if there will even be a high-profile, public investigation of the hurricane and its aftermath. Too many scorpions under those LA rocks. Besides, as Blanco was (dryly) informed a couple of days ago, "It isn't FEMA's responsibility to collect bodies". Not even Mary Landrieu is going to challenge that.

Posted by: jim hamlen at September 16, 2005 10:30 AM

Perhaps the feds can also root out all the corruption in New Orleans?

I used to live there in the mid-1980's, it is a fun town but mismanaged and corrupt as hell.

Posted by: pchuck at September 16, 2005 10:32 AM

"Conservatives whining about the spending need to understand that if Bush stood back and said 'not my job' the GOP would get crushed."

Who cares if the "GOP" gets "crushed"? What's so sacred about the GOP? Where does principle figure into this whole equation? Your above statement is essentially asking conservatives to care about the political fate of an entity that doesn't represent their interests.

"As has been shown repeatedly people prefer a govt that solves problems rather than no govt at all."

Okey doke. So let's change the Constitution. Until then, "people" can be annoyed by a non-problem-solving government.

Posted by: SP at September 16, 2005 10:46 AM

Any concerns I had about the spending withered away when I read that Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid complained about Bush using the disaster area as a laboratory for political opportunism [ie, popular initiatives] or ideological experimentation [ie, popular initiatives that are conservative].

Posted by: Timothy at September 16, 2005 10:47 AM


Why would you need to change the Constitution? Times like these are why there is a government.

Posted by: oj at September 16, 2005 10:52 AM

W announced what amounts to the Great Society's New Frontier in the War on Poverty, Jr. "We'll" bankroll "one of the greatest rebuilding efforts the world has ever seen," plus lift up the poor, heal the sick, raise the dead, and once and for all bring an end to greasy, yellow wax buildup.

His pledge for local control has Moon Landrieu's spawn recalling the collective wisdom of Earl Long while deleriously keying their calculators. Democrats who usually want to see Bush on a spit at a Texas barbecue now see the reincarnation of Lyndon Johnson.

Looking ahead, I can hear the race-hustling, poverty-pimp community cry out that it's not enough to help those hit by Hurricane Katrina. What about all the victims of Hurricane Bigotry who still haven't had their payday?

What a disappointment.

Posted by: Ed Bush at September 16, 2005 10:58 AM

If people want to get on Bush's gravy train, they'll need to register and that registry will generate a data file that will make it very hard for corruption to ever rise to the pre-Katrina levels. All patronage will come from the feds, not the locals who probably still don't know what hit them. Couldn't happen to a nicer bunch of people though.

Posted by: erp at September 16, 2005 11:02 AM

"Times like these are why there is a government."

Times like these are why there are insurance companies.

I'd like to spend MY money on my own "projects," like providing "direct assistance" for my family's clothing and shelter, and "rebuilding" the stock of food items in the pantry.

I'm not interested in someone taking that money to resurrect somebody else's city, particularly one that sits in a sinkhole next to a sea in the center of a hurricane zone.

Posted by: SP at September 16, 2005 11:29 AM


Great. Go live in a cave somewhere that has no government or society. The rest of us want to know that when a disaster of this magnitude happens our fellow citizens and the government we've formed along with them will provide help.

New Orleans obviously needs to be radically reconsidered, but we are all New Orleaneans.

Posted by: oj at September 16, 2005 11:36 AM

Why should I go live in a cave? I have a social contract where I live now. And it is not unreasonable for me to expect this social contract -- this Constitution, if you prefer -- to be heeded.

If you want to rewrite the social contract, there are ways to do it. But don't self-righteously insist that I "go live in a cave" just because I don't appreciate your willingness to violate the contract as it currently exists.

Posted by: SP at September 16, 2005 11:46 AM

Ever read the contract: "We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."

It doesn't say "fend for yourselves."

Posted by: oj at September 16, 2005 11:51 AM

That's why Libertarians and Objectivists are never going to get power in any meaningful way. Americans are practically incapable of seeing what happened in New Orleans and then turning their backs and saying "Good riddance!" and "It's not MY problem!"

It reminds me of that bit from the movie "Airplane!" where the conservative talk show host says, "They knew what they were getting into when they bought their tickets! I say, let 'em crash!" Except you're saying "Let 'em drown! Let 'em die! They knew the risks! My precious tax dollars are not to be spent on homeless refugees!" Jesus, how heartless can you get?

Posted by: Governor Breck at September 16, 2005 11:53 AM

Well, I'm not really happy about a massive federal expenditure but I can certainly see OJ's points. I can't even disagree with them. Sometimes, events trump theory.

I knew this would be coming last week. The President is doing what all politicians from time in memorial have done, bury political problems with money. I cannot blame him here. Something needed to be done, the structual changes he wants should be a benefit.

Politically, this is the "bullhorn" moment that Maureen Dowd said this week had passed. I guess she and EJ Dionne were wrong (I know big surprise). Those approval ratings should go up.

Posted by: Bob at September 16, 2005 11:56 AM

"Americans are practically incapable of seeing what happened in New Orleans and then turning their backs and saying 'Good riddance!' and 'It's not MY problem!'"

You're right. That's the reason we've voluntarily served up nearly $800 million so far. Somewhere in there is my own "heartless" contribution.

Posted by: SP at September 16, 2005 11:58 AM


And now some of your tax dollars will go too-though a vanishingly small amount. That's how a union works.

Posted by: oj at September 16, 2005 12:04 PM

You can lend your neighbor a garden hose when his house is on fire, but I bet he'd rather have the fire department show up.

Posted by: Governor Breck at September 16, 2005 12:21 PM

Just did the math. If Katrina costs $200 billion of taxpayer money, that's about 8% of the federal budget for the year. Or under one percent of the budget for the decade.

I can stand that...for the kind of storm that comes along less frequently than once a decade.

BTW, smart conservatives are mostly staying quiet about the speech. They know they can't make too many grumpy noises without sounding like Scrooge. And that Scrooginess is what sent conservatives into the political wilderness for decades during and after the Depression.

Posted by: Casey Abell at September 16, 2005 12:29 PM

SP, you're right about insurance companies. Their purpose is to make someone whole after a loss, not to make them better than they were, which Bush seems to be proposing.

erp, please re-read the preamble. It reads "provide for the common defense and promote the general welfare." You have transposed the verbs.

You could be right about the "insure domestic tranquility" bit. But Bush is behaving like a storekeeper negotiating with the mob to prevent them from breaking his windows. That is not insurance; it's extortion.

Posted by: Ed Bush at September 16, 2005 12:45 PM


What % is it of a $12 triilion+ GDP?


So you'd be okay with it if we just rebuild it exactly?

Posted by: oj at September 16, 2005 12:48 PM

Let's see $200 Billion divided among One Million refugees. that is $200K/person. Forget the contracts and the rebuilding. Just write each of them checks. That would be $800 K for the proverbial family of four and $1 Million if Granny moves in with them.

Some of them would take the money and run, and some would move back and rebuild. We all would be better off.

Posted by: Robert Schwartz [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 16, 2005 1:02 PM


Conservatives would never allow that.

Posted by: oj at September 16, 2005 1:15 PM

Ed, I didn't quote the preamble on this string, are you referring to a comment on another string or oj's comment above?

I'd like to go on record that I too support this endeavor, especially since I have confidence that Bush won't "throw money" at the problem, but will use the trememdous resources of the United States wisely and well.

The scope of this project won't be lost on the rest of the world who can't help but marvel at what we Americans can do. This weekend when at least some of the French Quarter will be open for business and the hopelessness in the shelters will have turned to anticipation of a bright future, what will the Sunday talk shows have to ululate. about?

Posted by: erp at September 16, 2005 2:18 PM

Robert Schwartz: "Let's see $200 Billion divided among One Million refugees. that is $200K/person."

But the number of people affected is many times the number of refugees. For instance, the shipping through the area and the oil & gas industries affect us all.

Posted by: Bill Woods at September 16, 2005 2:47 PM

Millions are affected (for good or ill) who aren't refugees. Baton Rouge is now a boom town. So is Jackson (MS). Lower Alabama is probably going to be less pleasant than usual for the next few months. Southwestern LA might be more pleasant, who knows?

Posted by: jim hamlen at September 16, 2005 3:33 PM


Mea culpa. It was oj I should have referred to.



Posted by: Ed Bush at September 16, 2005 3:46 PM

In other news, Cindy Sheehan has now called on President Bush to remove the federal troops from occupied New Orleans. No comment yet from Rick Perlstein.

Posted by: ratbert at September 16, 2005 4:01 PM


Didn't they call for him to beer hall putsch the place in the first instance?

Posted by: oj at September 16, 2005 4:41 PM

oj, you should let a well behaved troll comment once in a while to spice things up.

Posted by: erp at September 16, 2005 5:12 PM

Don't know what percentage of the GDP Katrina will cost, because you'd have to toss in all the costs besides those borne by the federal taxpayers. I was just reckoning on my taxes. Less than one percent a decade for a storm like Katrina doesn't seem brutal.

To the extent that conservatives are commenting on the speech at all, they seem to be following Hugh Hewitt's line. Great speech, great recovery, great great great. Oh, there are some Scroogish grumbles from NRO and Scrappleface and some other sites, but not many. Most conservatives are smart enough to realize that a they-paid-for-the-tickets-so-let-the-plane-crash approach is really not too clever.

Posted by: Casey Abell at September 16, 2005 5:14 PM


As I carefully explained, so long as they're well behaved we don't touch their comments. But, other than the Darwinists and hardcore Christophobes, they tend to go away after a while.

Posted by: oj at September 16, 2005 5:16 PM

My local leftist journalist sounding board, who last time we spoke was wading into Cindy Sheehan territory, told me today he was mightily impressed with Bush's speech. He also agreed the accusations of negligence and worse were absurd. We also both agreed that our American cousins should park the bad faith allegations until there is clear evidence of same and focus on stupidity instead.

Posted by: Peter B at September 16, 2005 5:42 PM

oj, I was just kidding -- I thought there would be a lot of sputtered outrage among the fiscally conservative posters here, but instead we all more or less agree that Bush is right, New Orleans must be rebuilt higher and better. The plan he laid out seems workable and he's put inspectors general in place for spending oversight.

I'm no engineer, but water seems in short supply in many places. Is there a chance that all that water in Lake Pontchartrain can be piped out to other parts of the country that need it.

Posted by: erp at September 16, 2005 6:13 PM

ERP: Ratbert is a humorist, not a troll.

Rat that was quite droll.

Posted by: Robert Schwartz [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 16, 2005 6:13 PM

Did Sheehan ever go to Maine Labor Day weekend to interfere with the Blue Angels Show?

Posted by: erp at September 16, 2005 7:21 PM

Casey-- the Libertarians (Reynolds, Sullivan) are grumbling, too, proving oj's points about them, I think.

Posted by: Timothy at September 16, 2005 7:54 PM

OJ: Reality has far surpassed our ability to satirize it. Rat's comment was still humorous.

Posted by: Robert Schwartz [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 16, 2005 8:51 PM