Vying for the Loon of the Year award, New Orleans' mayor Ray Nagin uttered the following:
"Surely God is mad at America. He sent us hurricane after hurricane after hurricane, and it's destroyed and put stress on this country... ...Surely he doesn't approve of us being in Iraq under false pretenses. But surely he is upset at black America also. We're not taking care of ourselves... ...It's time for us to come together. It's time for us to rebuild New Orleans -- the one that should be a chocolate New Orleans...This city will be a majority African American city. It's the way God wants it to be. You can't have New Orleans no other way. It wouldn't be New Orleans."
Wait, there's more. He described an imaginary conversation with Martin Luther King thusly:
"I said, `What is it going to take for us to move on and live your dream and make it a reality?' He said, `I don't think that we need to pay attention any more as much about other folks and racists on the other side.' He said, `The thing we need to focus on as a community - black folks I'm talking about - is ourselves.'"
In the imaginary conversation, he also asked:
"Why is black-on-black crime such an issue? Why do our young men hate each other so much that they look their brother in the face and they will take a gun and kill him in cold blood?"
The reply, Nagin said, was: "We as a people need to fix ourselves first."
He should have restricted himself to the last part, and left out the racial power bit. Obviously, something like that would not be acceptable coming from a white politician, and there's no reason it should be acceptable coming from someone who's not white. Of course, under "liberal" rules, even Robert Mugabe's actions are defensible.
UPDATE: Here's the video.
UPDATE 2: Memoralize this blip in history with T-shirts and other fine products.
One possibility is those featuring "Recall Nagin", with Mayor Ray dressed like Willy Wonka: link.
There are more here, including various products with "New Orleans: Chocolate Capitol of the USA" or "A Hurricane can wash away the houses, but not the chocolate".
President Bush visited New Orleans yesterday in what appears to have been a visit designed to bring back tourists and conventioneers. Here's the NYT's first paragraph:
President Bush made his first trip here in three months on Thursday and declared that New Orleans was "a heck of a place to bring your family" and that it had "some of the greatest food in the world and some wonderful fun."
Of course, the first quote is more than a little reminiscent of the infamous Bushism "Brownie, you're doing a heckuva job". As if on cue, the Huffington Post links to the NYT report using 'Bush Visits New Orleans Declares City A "Heck Of A" Place...' Also as if on cue, over 500 comments result from ardent "liberals".
Bush's motorcade passed by some devastated areas, but he avoided a demonstration put on by the Academy of the Sacred Heart demanding full levee protection.
Then, he paid a visit to the Convention and Visitors Bureau, where he said:
"for folks around the country who are looking for a great place to have a convention, or a great place to visit, I'd suggest coming here to the great New Orleans."
He did not, however, promise to develop levees that could withstand a Category 5 storm, only "stronger and better". That translates into being able to withstand a weak Cat 4 at the most.
Some details in "New Orleans Residents Show Anger at Forum". The "blueprints" are in the 34 Meg PowerPoint file available here. Basically, there would be a moratorium on building permits. And, residents would have to prove that their specific neighborhood could come back. If they couldn't do that, the neighborhood would be razed and the property owners would be given some percentage of their equity in the property. Listen to the NewsHour version in this RealAudio link.
Rep. Richard H. Baker (R-Baton Rouge) has proposed the "Louisiana Recovery Corporation" which would spend up to $80 billion to buy up property, pay off the banks, and the like: "A Big Government Fix-It Plan for New Orleans". It was passed over late last year, but Baker's hopeful it will be approved this year. Join the NYT as they spot conservatives in the mist:
...The passage of the bill has become increasingly important to Louisiana because the state lost out to the greater political power of Mississippi last month when Congress passed a $29 billion aid package for the Gulf states region. The package gave Mississippi about five times as much per household in housing aid as Louisiana received - a testimony to the clout of Gov. Haley Barbour of Mississippi, a former Republican National Committee chairman, and Senator Thad Cochran, chairman of the Appropriations Committee.
Louisiana officials say they were forced to go along with the appropriation, because they may not have received an aid package at all otherwise. But now they are focused even more intently on Mr. Baker's buyout bill; many economists here say there may be no alternative to buyouts for homeowners who cannot make mortgage payments on ruined properties...
Under his plan, the Louisiana Recovery Corporation would step in to prevent defaults, similar in general nature to the Resolution Trust Corporation set up by Congress in 1989 to bail out the savings and loan industry. It would offer to buy out homeowners, at no less than 60 percent of their equity before Hurricane Katrina. Lenders would be offered up to 60 percent of what they are owed.
To finance these expenditures, the government would sell bonds and pay them off in part with the proceeds from the sale of land to developers.
Property owners would not have to sell, but those who did would have an option to buy property back from the corporation. The federal corporation would have nothing to do with the redevelopment of the land; those plans would be drawn up by local authorities and developers...
Bush is interested, but his rebuilding czar Donald E. Powell isn't so convinced. However, Walter Isaacson's Louisiana Recovery Authority supports it, as do many... Democratic politicians. On the other hand, it was "shunned by many conservatives" in the House.
GRETNA -- Rather than send pump workers 100 miles north of the city when a hurricane threatens, Jefferson Parish will build 20 "safe houses" to ensure that pumps can be started quickly in case of floods, Parish President Aaron Broussard said.
When Hurricane Katrina struck, Broussard sent 236 pump workers to Washington Parish under the "Doomsday Plan" drawn up seven years ago, when Tim Coulon was parish president. Thousands of homes in Jefferson Parish flooded during the 12 hours it took for the workers to return.
"The 1998 Doomsday Plan is no more and will never again be used in Jefferson Parish," Broussard said Wednesday.
The phrase "Brownie, you're doing a heckova job" has been selected as the "Top Bushism of 2005" by the Global Language Monitor, Reuters gleefully reports.
The hitherto and henceforth obscure GLM rose to prominence after being called upon to explain the word "chad" during the Sore-Loserman controversy.
More than two thousand Katrina evacuees are registered sex offenders. That number is based only a match between the names of offenders and the names of those who applied for disaster assistance. From this:
...[Wade Horn, assistant secretary for children and families at the Department of Health and Human Services] wrote the nation's 50 governors in late November to alert them to the new search they could undertake with FEMA, and the process they were to use.
"I am greatly concerned that known sex offenders who may have relocated to your State may take advantage of their anonymity and harm children once again," Horn wrote in a letter to Gov. Rick Perry of Texas.
The letter indicated that Texas law enforcement officials had already done a cross-check, and that it was the only state at that time which had.
Federal authorities told Texas of 304 known sex offenders who had relocated to the state, of which they know of 14 who have registered and provided contact information to law enforcement, said Jerry Strickland, spokesman for Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott...
It's a double-fallout: from both bad Bush administration policy and bad "liberalism". Someone at FEMA or another agency should have figured this out before and during the diaspora.
And, see "ACLU opposed background checks on evacuees" and "Milwaukee NAACP offended by evacuee background checks".
And, from September: "Many refugees have arrest records".
Perhaps worst of all, see "DHS official opposed background checks on evacuees".
The leader of the [South Carolina] chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union says racism was at the heart of assumptions that led to South Carolina to do criminal background checks of Hurricane Katrina evacuees.
From the same state:
"We want to uphold everyone's constitutional rights," State Law Enforcement Division Chief Robert Stewart said. "But if someone is coming into a home with a family, they would probably want to know if that person is on the sex offender registry or is a violent criminal."
...In Massachusetts authorities found a man wanted on a rape charge among the 200 Katrina evacuees who landed at a military base on Cape Cod and took him into custody. Katie Ford, a spokeswoman for the Massachusetts public safety office, said two others left the state while authorities were reviewing whether they needed to register as sex offenders...
And, from the enemy itself:
Expressing "dismay and disappointment" at the state's actions, the ACLU of Rhode Island today called on state officials to stop conducting criminal background checks on all of the Hurricane Katrina evacuees who have relocated to Rhode Island this week. The ACLU called the checks "intrusive, humiliating and discriminatory." Below is a statement issued by RI ACLU executive director Steven Brown:
"The ACLU has learned from news reports that, following the lead of some other states across the country, the State Police have begun conducting criminal background checks on all Hurricane Katrina evacuees who have relocated here. Since the evacuees' arrival, news stories have emphasized how government officials have welcomed them with open arms. In many ways they have. But it is quite troubling to learn that those arms are also placing our guests' fingers on an ink blotter.
"We are sure that the vast majority of the 106 people who have come here are grateful for all the assistance that has been provided them since they landed in Rhode Island, and they are unlikely to object to a background check. Nonetheless, it remains an intrusive, humiliating and discriminatory response that has the effect of treating the evacuees like common criminals. [etc. etc. etc.]
The ACLU also opposed this in Pennsylvania.
Gov. Bob Riley's administration has been running criminal background checks on Hurricane Katrina evacuees living in temporary housing in Alabama's 13 state parks, a move opposed by a federal Homeland Security official...
A federal official, Michael Waters, protective security adviser in the Birmingham district of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, had opposed the background checks.
"I recommended that we not attempt to do this at all," he wrote in a Sept. 7 e-mail obtained by the Register.
No background checks were required for Hurricane Ivan evacuees from Baldwin County, Waters said.
He described the background checks as "a potentially explosive issue given the existing race/class issues that have already been raised."
Asked about those concerns, Emerson said that Ivan evacuees were primarily from Alabama, while those fleeing Katrina were from Louisiana and Mississippi.
State Sen. Vivian Davis Figures, D-Mobile, said she was not opposed to weeding out registered sex offenders. But Figures questioned why Riley "saw fit to do a background check on everybody."
The Army Corps of Engineers did a design review of the New Orleans levees in 1990. Apparently the engineers on the project thought the soil under the 17th Street Canal was stronger than it was, and one of their offices discovered this at that time:
Corps documents show the mistake of overly optimistic levee strength was detected by its Vicksburg, Miss., office, which directed local engineers to make changes. But when the chief engineer in New Orleans replied that the results were based on "engineering judgment," his superiors dropped the issue.
[Robert Bea, a University of California-Berkeley professor] said the discussion in the 16-year-old "design memo" points to the key decision that created fatal problems on the 17th Street Canal levee and could reveal a systemic problem that will show up during investigation into the London Avenue and Industrial Canal levees, which also breached during the Aug. 29 storm.