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Full text of Bush's Katrina speech

Located here, summary here.

...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...
...As of today, more than 500 thousand evacuee families have gotten emergency help to pay for food, clothing, and other essentials...
...In addition, we are taking steps to ensure that evacuees don't 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 fifteen hundred health professionals, along with over 50 tons of medical supplies - including vaccines, 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...
Our goal is to get people out of shelters by the middle of October. So we are 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 Congress to ensure that states are reimbursed for these extra expenses...
...we are beginning to bring in mobile homes and trailers for temporary use...
Near New Orleans, Biloxi, and other cities, housing is urgently needed for police and firefighters, other service providers, and the many workers who are going to rebuild those 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 will provide mobile homes, and supply them with basic services, as close to the 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... Our goal is to get the work done quickly. And taxpayers expect this work to be done honestly and wisely - so we will have a team of inspectors general reviewing all expenditures...
And in the work of rebuilding, as many jobs as possible should go to men and women who live in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. [no doubt including those illegal aliens who live there --KC]
...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...
...Tonight I propose the creation of a Gulf Opportunity Zone, encompassing the region of the disaster in Louisiana, 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...
...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 five thousand dollars, 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...
...To help lower-income citizens in the hurricane region build new and better lives, I also propose that Congress pass an Urban Homesteading Act...
...It is the armies of compassion...
...I have asked USA Freedom Corps to create an information clearing house, available at usafreedomcorps.gov, 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, 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...
...Our cities must have clear and up-to-date plans for responding to natural disasters, disease outbreaks, or terrorist attack...
...I have 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...
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.
...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...

Bush wants to spend $200 billion on Katrina

From "Bush to Request More Aid Funding":

The president will call on Washington to resist spending money unwisely, but some in his own party are already starting to recoil at a price tag expected to exceed $200 billion -- about the cost of the Iraq war and reconstruction efforts. As emergency expenditures soar -- with new commitments as high as $2 billion a day -- some budget analysts and conservative groups are warning that the Katrina spending has combined with earlier fiscal decisions in ways that will wreak havoc on the government's finances for years to come.

Not even sailors with alcohol poisoning spend like Bush wants to spend. I wonder how much of that will be pork, and how much of it will be "spillage" to various officials in what is reputedly the most corrupt state in the union.

Clinton took day longer to go to OKC than Bush to NO

"Clinton's Disaster Response Took Longer Than Bush's" informs us:

Critics say President Bush's personal response to the Hurricane Katrina disaster was too little, too late - with an Air Force One flyover the day after New Orleans' levees broke and a trip to Baton Rouge two days later.
President Clinton, other the other hand, got glowing reviews for responding to his administration's biggest disaster, the Oklahoma City bombing - even though he took a day longer to arrive on the scene than Bush did last week...

Clinton didn't go to OKC for four days.
Now, playing liberals' advocate here, it should be pointed out that Bush made landfall on the Friday after the storm. But, NewsMax is counting from when the levees broke. They, perhaps incorrectly, say that was a Tuesday. If they broke on Monday, then Clinton and Bush would be tied. Woo hoo!
Further:

...The double standard becomes even more obvious when reaction to Katrina is compared with what remains the worst law enforcement debacle in U.S. history - the Clinton administration's decision to rout the Branch Davidians from their encampment at Waco.
More children were killed in that April 19, 1993 assault than died in Oklahoma City. Yet the Clinton administration received little if any blame - and no one was forced to resign.
In fact, after then-Attorney General Janet Reno publicly accepted responsibility, she was hailed as a hero by sympathetic reporters, an irony that's likely not lost on Bush's allegedly "disgraced" ex-FEMA Director Michael Brown.

Moveon.org wants a Katrina Commission

Received via email:

Will you sign our petition for an independent Katrina Commission?
Senators, including many moderate Republicans, are deciding whether to support a Katrina Commission modeled after the 9/11 Commission, this week. We need a really big number of people to sign the petition to show senators and representatives how much support there is for the Katrina Commission.
President Bush will address the nation about Hurricane Katrina on Thursday. We'll start delivering the petitions to Congress starting Friday morning so senators and representatives will hear what you think the very next day. The goal is to get 250,000 petition signers quickly.
Here's why we need a Katrina Commission:
* We need to learn from Hurricane Katrina. The scale of the disaster makes it urgent that we learn from mistakes. The government can't investigate itself. That means appointing an independent group of experts to sort through the data.
* We need to find the other Michael Browns. Yesterday, FEMA director Michael Brown resigned. Brown had no experience in emergency management-his last job was as the director of the International Arabian Horses Association. And there are many other political appointees like him who could get in the way during a future emergency.
* When President Bush investigates his own government, no one is held accountable. When Bush and his allies have led investigations in the past, they've been whitewashes. The WMD Commission, led by Republicans in the Senate, concluded that no one was really to blame for the falsified intelligence about WMDs in Iraq. And the White House was entirely opposed to the 9/11 Commission until victims' families made it a politically impossible position.
The 9/11 Commission is a good model for the Katrina Commission. It was independent, bipartisan and provided all Americans with an honest and frank assessment of what happened on September 11th-they even published the results as a book. Support for the Katrina Commission is growing. New York Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton introduced legislation last week that would establish the one.

Did Bush take responsibility for Katrina failures?

Not entirely.
From the report:

"Katrina exposed serious problems in our response capability at all levels of government... To the extent the federal government didn't fully do its job right, I take responsibility. [...] I'm not going to defend the process going in... I am going to defend the people saving lives."

So, he hasn't taken responsibility for Nagin, Blanco, Landrieu, other corrupt Louisiana politicians, the Welfare State, etc. etc. and so forth and so on.
And:

The president was asked whether people should be worried about the government's ability to handle another terrorist attack given failures in responding to Katrina.
"Are we capable of dealing with a severe attack? That's a very important question and it's in the national interest that we find out what went on so we can better respond," Bush replied.

Ben Stein: the real story is the MSM going for the kill

He goes a little overboard in his praise of Our Leader, but he's absolutely correct in his assessment of our newly revived press corps:

...What is the real story of Katrina is (I suggest) not so much that nature wrought fury on land, water, people, property, and animals, not at all anything about racism, not much about federal government incompetence. The real story is that the mainstream media rioted.
They used the storm and its attendant sorrows to continue their endless attack on George W. Bush. Wildly inflated stories about the number of dead and missing, totally made up old wives' tales of racism, breathless accounts of Bush's neglect that are utterly devoid of truth and of historical context -- this is what the mainstream media gave us. The use of floating corpses, of horror stories of plagues, the sad faces of refugees, the long-faced phony accusations of intentional neglect and racism -- anything is grist for the media's endless attempts to undermine the electorate's choice last November. It is sad, but true that the media will use even the most heart breaking truths -- and then add total inventions -- to try to weaken and then evict from office a man who has done nothing wrong, but has instead turned himself inside out to help the real victims.
In the meantime, George Bush does not lash out, does not attack those who falsely accuse him of the most horrible acts and neglect. Instead, he doggedly goes on helping the least among us. I don't know how he does it, but we are very lucky he does...

Newsweek: "How Bush Blew It"

The Newsweek article How Bush Blew It accuses our leader of having surrounded himself with sycophantic slags, among other sins:

...When Hurricane Katrina struck, it appears there was no one to tell President Bush the plain truth: that the state and local governments had been overwhelmed, that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) was not up to the job and that the military, the only institution with the resources to cope, couldn't act without a declaration from the president overriding all other authority.
...this time "Rummy" opposed sending in active-duty troops as cops. Dick Cheney, who was vacationing in Wyoming when the storm hit, characteristically kept his counsel on videoconferences; his private advice is not known.
Liberals will say they were indifferent to the plight of poor African-Americans. It is true that Katrina laid bare society's massive neglect of its least fortunate....

Insert our standard Welfare State discussion here.

...But on Saturday night, as Katrina bore down on New Orleans, Nagin talked to Max Mayfield, head of the National Hurricane Center. "Max Mayfield has scared me to death," Nagin told City Councilwoman Cynthia Morrell early Sunday morning. "If you're scared, I'm scared," responded Morrell, and the mandatory order went out to evacuate the city-about a day later than for most other cities and counties along the Gulf Coast...
...At dusk [Monday Aug 29], on the ninth floor of city hall, the mayor and the city council had their first encounter with the federal government. A man in a blue FEMA windbreaker arrived to brief them on his helicopter flyover of the city. He seemed unfamiliar with the city's geography, but he did have a sense of urgency. "Water as far as the eye can see," he said. It was worse than Hurricanes Andrew in 1992 and Camille in 1969. "I need to call Washington," he said. "Do you have a conference-call line?" According to an aide to the mayor, he seemed a little taken aback when the answer was no. Long neglected in the city budget, communications within the New Orleans city government were poor, and eventually almost nonexistent when the batteries on the few old satellite phones died. The FEMA man found a phone, but he had trouble reaching senior officials in Washington. When he finally got someone on the line, the city officials kept hearing him say, "You don't understand, you don't understand."

This first encounter is also described in another article; if someone has the link please post it.

...At about 8 p.m. [Monday Aug 29], [Blanco] spoke to Bush. "Mr. President," she said, "we need your help. We need everything you've got."
Bush, the governor later recalled, was reassuring. But the conversation was all a little vague. Blanco did not specifically ask for a massive intervention by the active-duty military...
...There are a number of steps Bush could have taken, short of a full-scale federal takeover, like ordering the military to take over the pitiful and (by now) largely broken emergency communications system throughout the region. But the president, who was in San Diego preparing to give a speech the next day on the war in Iraq, went to bed...

Hit those talking points!

...By the predawn hours [of Tuesday Aug 30], most state and federal officials finally realized that the 17th Street Canal levee had been breached, and that the city was in serious trouble. Bush was told at 5 a.m. Pacific Coast time and immediately decided to cut his vacation short. To his senior advisers, living in the insular presidential bubble, the mere act of lopping off a couple of presidential vacation days counts as a major event. They could see pitfalls in sending Bush to New Orleans immediately. His presence would create a security nightmare and get in the way of the relief effort. Bush blithely proceeded with the rest of his schedule for the day, accepting a gift guitar at one event and pretending to riff like Tom Cruise in "Risky Business."

Of course, this is one of the things that the "liberals" have harped on, including faulting him for not rushing there immediately. Then, after he went there they harped on how the necessary security for his visit had delayed evacuations. Those wacky "liberals".

[...only "28 or 30" cops were available out of 120 who were summoned to the Second District...]
...New Orleans had no real evacuation plan, save to tell people to go to the Superdome and wait for buses. On Tuesday, the state was rounding up buses; no, FEMA was; no, FEMA's buses would take too long to get there ... and so on...
...Early Wednesday morning [Aug 31], Blanco tried to call Bush. She was transferred around the White House for a while until she ended up on the phone with Fran Townsend, the president's Homeland Security adviser, who tried to reassure her but did not have many specifics. Hours later, Blanco called back and insisted on speaking to the president. When he came on the line, the governor recalled, "I just asked him for help, 'whatever you have'." She asked for 40,000 troops. "I just pulled a number out of the sky," she later told NEWSWEEK.

Clearly, she was in very very far over her head.

The Pentagon was not sitting idly. By Tuesday morning (and even before the storm) the military was moving supplies, ships, boats, helicopters and troops toward the Gulf Coast. But, ironically, the scale of the effort slowed it. TV viewers had difficulty understanding why TV crews seemed to move in and out of New Orleans while the military was nowhere to be seen. But a TV crew is five people in an RV. Before the military can send in convoys of trucks, it has to clear broken and flooded highways. The military took over the shattered New Orleans airport for emergency airlifts, but special teams of Air Force operators had to be sent in to make it ready. By the week after the storm, the military had mobilized some 70,000 troops and hundreds of helicopters-but it took at least two days and usually four and five to get them into the disaster area. Looters and well-armed gangs, like TV crews, moved faster.

Yet another "liberal" talking point, including something that Nagin said over and over, was that we could send all this aid to tsunami victims, but we can't immediately send in the military. The preceding paragraph does help explain why.

In the inner councils of the Bush administration, there was some talk of gingerly pushing aside the overwhelmed "first responders," the state and local emergency forces, and sending in active-duty troops. But under an 1868 law, federal troops are not allowed to get involved in local law enforcement. The president, it's true, could have invoked the Insurrections Act, the so-called Riot Act. But Rumsfeld's aides say the secretary of Defense was leery of sending in 19-year-old soldiers trained to shoot people in combat to play policemen in an American city, and he believed that National Guardsmen trained as MPs were on the way.
...Once a kind of petty-cash drawer for congressmen to quickly hand out aid after floods and storms, FEMA had improved in the 1990s in the Clinton administration...

Everything improved on Bubba's watch!

...Bush likes "metrics," numbers to measure performance, so the bureaucrats gave him reassuring statistics. At a press availability on Wednesday, Bush duly rattled them off: there were 400 trucks transporting 5.4 million meals and 13.4 million liters of water along with 3.4 million pounds of ice. Yet it was obvious to anyone watching TV that New Orleans had turned into a Third World hellhole.
The denial and the frustration finally collided aboard Air Force One on Friday. As the president's plane sat on the tarmac at New Orleans airport, a confrontation occurred that was described by one participant as "as blunt as you can get without the Secret Service getting involved." Governor Blanco was there, along with various congressmen and senators and Mayor Nagin (who took advantage of the opportunity to take a shower aboard the plane). One by one, the lawmakers listed their grievances as Bush listened. Rep. Bobby Jindal, whose district encompasses New Orleans, told of a sheriff who had called FEMA for assistance. According to Jindal, the sheriff was told to e-mail his request, "and the guy was sitting in a district underwater and with no electricity," Jindal said, incredulously. "How does that make any sense?" Jindal later told NEWSWEEK that "almost everybody" around the conference table had a similar story about how the federal response "just wasn't working." With each tale, "the president just shook his head, as if he couldn't believe what he was hearing," says Jindal, a conservative Republican and Bush appointee who lost a close race to Blanco. Repeatedly, the president turned to his aides and said, "Fix it."

If true, that would tend to place Bush in a somewhat better light than our "liberal" friends have painted him.

According to Sen. David Vitter, a Republican ally of Bush's, the meeting came to a head when Mayor Nagin blew up during a fraught discussion of "who's in charge?" Nagin slammed his hand down on the table and told Bush, "We just need to cut through this and do what it takes to have a more-controlled command structure. If that means federalizing it, let's do it."
A debate over "federalizing" the National Guard had been rattling in Washington for the previous three days. Normally, the Guard is under the control of the state governor, but the Feds can take over-if the governor asks them to. Nagin suggested that Lt. Gen. Russel Honore, the Pentagon's on-scene commander, be put in charge. According to Senator Vitter, Bush turned to Governor Blanco and said, "Well, what do you think of that, Governor?" Blanco told Bush, "I'd rather talk to you about that privately." To which Nagin responded, "Well, why don't you do that now?"
The meeting broke up. Bush and Blanco disappeared to talk. More than a week later, there was still no agreement. Blanco didn't want to give up her authority, and Bush didn't press...

Well, I guess that's not a good appraisal of Blanco's leadership abilities then.
Some of the claims in this article are countered here, and please leave more in the comments.

"G.O.P. Sees Opportunities Arising From Storm"

The NYT reports on the relentless march of "compassionate conservatism":

Republican leaders in Congress and some White House officials see opportunities in Hurricane Katrina to advance longstanding conservative goals like giving students vouchers to pay for private schools, paying churches to help with temporary housing and scaling back business regulation...
The Bush administration has already moved to relax a variety of regulations in areas damaged by the hurricane. Many of the changes are small, like letting people take bigger tax deductions for the miles they drive while doing charitable work. Another change, announced on Friday by Treasury Secretary John W. Snow, will give preference to investment groups from hurricane areas that are seeking tax credits for community development projects.
But other changes are more ideological and more controversial. On Thursday, Mr. Bush issued an order that exempts federal contractors working on disaster relief projects from a longstanding federal requirement that they pay workers "prevailing wages," which are usually pegged to union pay rates.
The exemption strikes at the heart of a requirement that labor unions and Democratic lawmakers have ferociously defended for years.
"There are a lot of opportunities to experiment," said Mr. Snow, who jointed Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao and Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez in a rapid trip to highlight the administration's hurricane-relief operations...

"Firms with Bush ties snag Katrina deals"

Reuters:

Companies with ties to the Bush White House and the former head of FEMA are clinching some of the administration's first disaster relief and reconstruction contracts in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
At least two major corporate clients of lobbyist Joe Allbaugh, President George W. Bush's former campaign manager and a former head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, have already been tapped to start recovery work along the battered Gulf Coast.
One is Shaw Group Inc. and the other is Halliburton Co. subsidiary Kellogg Brown and Root. Vice President Dick Cheney is a former head of Halliburton...

See also "Halliburton taps $500 million Katrina contract; Allbaugh connection".

"Political Issues Snarled Plans for Military Help After Hurricane", Part 2

The NYT article about the Insurrection Act and who was responsible for doing what when, Bush or Blanco, is discussed here.

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