Whoops... it's the one year anniversary of the Katrina tragedy. Spike Lee has a documentary out that's getting a lot of buzz. And Bush has all but ignored the Gulf Coast. What to do? Why, it's time for a pandering, insulting flyover, of course!
Bush: Katrina Recovery Will Take Time
(Of course, it might take less time if some work was being done, but whatever.)
WASHINGTON - President Bush cautioned against placing too much importance on the first anniversary of Hurricane Katrina's Gulf Coast strike, saying a long, sustained rebuilding effort is still needed.Yeah, we wouldn't want to actually consider the implications of what happened and take a good, hard look at what's actually been done for the victims, would we? After all, isn't a date just a number?
"It's a time to remember that people suffered and it's a time to recommit ourselves to helping them," Bush said Wednesday. "But I also want people to remember that a one-year anniversary is just that, because it's going to require a long time to help these people rebuild."Seriously, if anyone can tell me what the fuck he means with that sentence, please let me know.
A day earlier, the Bush administration's Gulf Coast coordinator, Don Powell, said $44 billion has been spent to get the still-battered region back on its feet. A far larger sum — more than $110 billion — has been designated for the massive rebuilding project. Of that money, approximately $17 billion will help rebuild an estimated 204,000 homes in Louisiana and Mississippi.And every single penny has been put to good use.
What next? A situation like this that could cause the prez to look worse than usual calls for something special... something Rovian... of course! A photo op!
Bush spoke on the South Lawn of the White House after meeting in the Oval Office with a New Orleans-area man who lost his home in the storm. Rockey Vaccarella, 41, of Meraux in St. Bernard Parish, has been traveling the Gulf Coast region to mark the Katrina anniversary.I'm going to assume that this man wouldn't be as critical as, say, Cindy Sheehan. Kudos to him for trying to talk some sense to Prezint Blinky McDistracted; as we all know, he's not an easy man to meet or talk to when he thinks you might not be on his side.
Released Wednesday by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and her Senate counterpart, Harry Reid, D-Nev., the report asserted that "thousands of families are still waiting" for FEMA trailers and that a significant proportion of money that FEMA has spent there "has been waste, fraud and abuse."Ah, a big 'ol check. Brilliant. Kind of like just handing out $2000 debit cards. And Democrats are supposedly the ones that "throw money at problems?"
"The Republican Congress didn't enact needed housing money for homeowners in Louisiana until June, 10 months after Katrina - and the money has still failed to reach these homeowners," it said.
For his part, Bush promised to continue working to make sure the federal government's efforts in the rebuilding effort are efficient.
"I told Rockey the first obligation of the federal government is to write a check big enough to help the people down there," Bush said. "And I told him that to the extent that there's still bureaucratic hurdles, and the need for the federal government to help eradicate those hurdles, we want to do that."
Bush is spending two days in the Gulf region next week to mark the anniversary. He will be in Mississippi on Monday, to have lunch with community leaders, walk through a neighborhood, and deliver a speech on the rebuilding effort, before traveling to New Orleans, where he was scheduled to have dinner with state and local official and spend the night. On Tuesday, Bush is attending a service of prayer and remembrance, conducting a roundtable discussion on an effort headed by first lady Laura Bush to restock Gulf Coast libraries. He also will give a speech and visit with local residents, Perino said.A nice stroll through a neighborhood, dinner, and fixing up libraries. What a guy. You know what would impress me more? If he spent the night in one of those FEMA trailers. And filling the libraries with books is a nice idea and all, but what about the schools? Who's going to be visiting a library if they don't have somewhere to live? I hope they'll have some cots in the stacks.
Meanwhile, back at the reality ranch:
The job of clearing debris left by the storm remains unfinished, and has been plagued by accusations of fraud and price gouging. Tens of thousands of families still live in trailers or mobile homes, with no indication of when or how they will be able to obtain permanent housing. Important decisions about rebuilding and improving flood defenses have been delayed. And little if anything has been done to ensure the welfare of the poor in a rebuilt New Orleans.Color me shocked. And what about paying attention to threats "before they fully materialize?"
LEVEES: The federal government hasn't broken any promises with regard to flood protection — mostly because it has assiduously avoided making any.Well, we can wait until the end of 2007. There probably won't be any hurricanes until then.
White House Katrina recovery czar Donald Powell has said that the administration intends to wait for the completion of a $20 million U.S. Army Corps of Engineers study, due in December 2007, before it decides whether to enhance the flood protection system in southern Louisiana enough to resist a Category 5 hurricane.
A preliminary draft of the study released in July was widely criticized because it omitted five projects that state officials say should be started right away. At the same time, it focused on a massive levee that would stretch hundreds of miles along the Louisiana coast while paying only lip service to the critical task of shoring up the state's vanishing wetlands, which provide a natural barrier to hurricane flooding.
Shakes and I talked recently, and both of us were saying that we thought the Katrina tragedy would be the undoing for Bush. The gross incompetence, the horror that increased daily, the blatant disdain for the victims, and the complete ignoring of the situation should have been the tolling bell for the Bush Presidency. Somehow, he managed to survive.
Now, one year later, the disdain and ignoring continues. Bush would desperately love for Americans to consider the anniversary of this black eye to be unimportant; not a milestone, but a beginning. However, it only proves that the Bush Administration didn't give a good goddamn about the people on the Gulf Coast then, and one year later, they still have little concern for the welfare of the victims.
New Orleans is still drowning.
(I caution about placing too much importance on this cross-post.)