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17.9.05

Media indifference can't save Bernhard; moonbat left benefits

Creating and running Louisiana’s biggest indigenous company as his vocation, Jim Bernhard put that ahead of his hapless political activism when he announced that after just months he would step down as chairman of the Louisiana Democratic Party.

Bernhard had been allowed to run the party because of his close connections to Gov. Kathleen Blanco. Her plan had been to put a loyalist at the helm to turn the party into a propaganda and reelection machine for her. Particularly, he could keep the moonbat fringe leftists from gaining too much control, sabotaging her bid for a second term.

However, his position became much less tenable as Blanco began to draw more and more well-deserved criticism for her mishandling of the state’s preparation for and response to Hurricane Katrina and that his firm The Shaw Group drew a huge, no-bid contract for post-Katrina work. All Blanco needs is to have charges of favoritism, that she had tried to influence the federal government on this matter (even if no direct proof exists), heaped onto the perception of incompetence she has earned from the disaster; no doubt she asked for Bernhard to go.

15.9.05

Abolish irresponsible, negligent Orleans Levee Board

Finally, the rest of the country (or at least those who haven’t read this cyber-space in the past couple of months) is finding out about the misplaced priorities of the Orleans Levee Board. No account of the reasons why Hurricane Katrina’s damage exceeded what should have been can be complete without mentioning it, or the people responsible for it.

We know that in the past several years the board has engaged in building all sorts of infrastructure with little of that actually being levees and floodwalls. We know that in the past few years it has directed resources towards a senseless investigation of a radio talk show host. We know that in the past year it has tried to raid taxpayers to give a huge salary increase for a part-time job to the person mainly responsible for the above.

Thus, it should come as no surprise that the board would prefer to subsidize casinos and marinas and to build fountains rather than more substantial things, especially given the political composition of the board (and these excerpts give a good idea of the jockeying that typically goes on that places a premium on politics rather than performance). And, ultimately, it goes back to the officials who have appointed members of the board over the past decade and more, who serve at the will of the governor and mayor of New Orleans – Govs. Prisoner 03128-095, Mike Foster, Kathleen Blanco, and Mayors Marc Morial and Ray Nagin (although the mayors’ hands are a bit forced – one member must come from the City Council).

Picking political animals who were concerned more about business deals than flood protection merely counts as stupidity. But the fact that there is some question whether a proper job in constructing flood protection was done in the first place reaches into the criminal, a scenario suggested by one expert.

Simply, either through irresponsible priorities or outright negligence in overseeing that specifications were followed in constructing flood protection, the Board frittered away a large amount of monetary resources that could have been utilized much better to provide better fortification against flooding. Indirectly, the governors and mayors who put such people in charge of this vital task also bear blame.

Obviously this is closing the barn door after the horse got out, but a legislative priority in any special session dealing with the aftermath of the hurricane should be to abolish all appointive levee board positions statewide and to merge their functions into the state bureaucracy (not known for its efficiency, but certainly better at providing service than decisions emanating from political hacks). Certainly this provides a better chance for the proper safeguarding when the next big, inevitable storm comes.

14.9.05

Jefferson, with federal help, loots his own home

While almost every elected Democrat around the New Orleans area has been blasting away at everybody but themselves to assess the problems prior to and after Hurricane Katrina (to deflect criticism from themselves), practically no rhetoric about relief operations has come from the flooded city’s Member of Congress, Democrat Rep. William Jefferson. Until now.

It turns out that Jefferson commandeered National Guard forces and looted his own home. He came well-prepared: first just one truck and a few soldiers, soon followed by another, with a helicopter visit in-between. It’s possible that these forces, utilized by Jefferson over the span of a couple of hours, actually might have been used to rescue desperate people and restore order during that interval, but given the federal government’s incompetence under Pres. George W. Bush according to Jefferson’s co-partisans, surely this was the best use of these resources.

It’s also possible that Jefferson looted his own residence because he wanted to grab sensitive materials before somebody else from the federal government got a chance to loot them first. He said he removed nothing relevant to this investigation into his alleged corruption and honesty. Guess that settles that.

So know we know why Jefferson’s only real public statements about the disaster have come on the floor of Congress and have been lauding the government response. After all, it did provide him the means by which to carry out his Operation Recover Hope. And, he might as well take advantage of his position while he has it, because if the government doesn’t convict him first or his district doesn’t disappear, what few waterlogged voters will be left in his district in 2006 may not find his mission during the height of the crisis all that amusing.

13.9.05

Some Louisiana elected officials have looked like statesmen

It’s clear that Dallasite New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin and Gov. Kathleen Blanco, through their ill-preparation and lack of execution, increased the misery wrought by Hurricane Katrina, and that Sen. Mary Landrieu has set new standards in pots calling kettles black through her criticism of Pres. George W. Bush and his administration that she deserves much more than they. But how have other elected officials other than these Democrats who could have done things to reduce these miseries reacted?

So far, while Republican Sen. David Vitter hasn’t been criticizing the Bush Administration specifically, he’s been handing out failing grades left and right to everybody but himself. But he needs stop chunking stones out of his somewhat-glass house before he politically damages himself because, like Landrieu, having been in Congress for many years he is open to the charge that he did too little to steer federal dollars to worthy flood-control projects. Unlike Landrieu, at least, he didn’t use influence to encourage money to go to marginal projects.

Democrat local and state officials for the most part have looked or made themselves look foolish over the incident (who can forget Jefferson Parish President Aaron Broussard’s meltdown as he blamed the federal government for everything, accusing it of murder, and praised Blanco to the sky, while interviewed right after him Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour painted a completely different picture of the federal effort – same federal government, different states, different results, so how could the federal government be mainly responsible for Jefferson Parish and Louisiana government’s inadequacies?). But one Democrat who has looked good is U.S. Rep. Charlie Melancon.

Melancon, a freshman whose district bore the direct brunt of the storm, doesn’t carry the baggage that Landrieu and Vitter potentially do. He has been low-key in his criticisms and, unlike practically every other Democrat, has not sounded shrill, out-of-control, or even deranged in assessing the situation. Given his tenuous chances for reelection, he has to be like this.

(I’m not counting Rep. William Jefferson, who has been inaudible even though his district is ground zero for the economic devastation wrought by Katrina, no doubt because he has had a political/legal catastrophe of his own that apparently has gotten his tongue concerning all other matters.)

However, the official standing to gain the most political mileage in the aftermath of the hurricane is Republican U.S. Rep. Bobby Jindal. His district got hit with almost the full fury of Katrina, and he lost his (recently-acquired) home. He has offered both measured praise to the federal government and mild rebukes to bureaucracy (everybody’s favorite whipping boy) at all levels while trying to stay focused on what to do next. In all he has come off looking best and, also a Congressional freshman, cannot get blamed for any sins of emergency preparedness committed prior to this year.

This would not be good news for anybody interested in the job Jindal is said still to covet, the governorship. Now that Blanco’s words and actions have provided immeasurable fodder for potential 2007 opponents, and he perhaps is the only politician who has appeared competent and statemanslike throughout this trying period, a replay of that election as of today (if it were physically possible) would make him the clear winner, even if others such as Vitter also ran for the job.

12.9.05

Politics conditions Blanco actions before and after Katrina

I suppose Gov. Kathleen Blanco technically is correct when she asserts that state officials had a “well-thought plan” for dealing with Hurricane Katrina. It’s her reelection plan, and it’s kicked into high gear now by her defending Pres. George W. Bush.

But as far as any plan to deal with the tangible, rather than political, effects of Katrina, no “well-thought out plan” existed, according to one expert. Florida’s emergency operations chief, Craig Fugate said “A plan should not be some requirement. It should truly reflect what your real needs are, and what your real resources are." Louisiana's plan doesn't do either.”

The best Blanco’s team could come with was a vague document with stunning observations such as “The primary means of hurricane evacuation will be personal vehicles. School and municipal buses, government-owned vehicles and vehicles provided by volunteer agencies may be used to provide transportation for individuals who lack transportation and require assistance in evacuating (emphasis added)” and “the evacuation of over a million people from the Southeast Region could overwhelm normally available shelter resources.” You don’t say? It would have been nice for the document to include a solution to this, but it doesn’t.

Not only that, but when the grownups from the federal government offered assistance three days before the storm hit, Blanco delayed accepting out of fear she would be upstaged politically. Then when started making requests, she conveyed them very poorly. She explained, “"Nobody told me that I had to request that [troops outside the state’s National Guard] … I thought that I had requested everything they had.”

And just how long have you been Governor? Long enough not to know the relevant federal law (U.S. Code Title 42 Sec 5191) in this case? (It’s not enough to declare a state of emergency in the state; you have to ask the federal government in and with what specifics). Long enough to forget how it was done in a similar situation last year?

In the past week, Blanco has come to understand that she is taking a political beating for her missteps so now, understanding the glass house in which she lives, she refrains from passing out the blame by word or deed. Not that she was very public about it, but her actions spoke louder than her neutral words in her intent to blame Bush. Now she goes out of her way to avoid any critical tone about the president whatsoever.

In addition, even two years from now the demographic effects of the storm may have permanently altered the political landscape to her and Louisiana Democrats’ disadvantage. That and the mishandling of the whole situation leaves her political future in doubt, meaning we can look for her to continue to dissociate herself from the moonbat Left’s criticizing of Bush as Louisiana turns more Republican in the aftermath of it all.

11.9.05

Landrieu continues to embarrass herself, turn state voters off

National Democrats over the past decade have adopted issue preferences and rhetoric to match which has made them the minority party in this country. Now, with the help of their Louisiana stooge Sen. Mary Landrieu, they appear bound to do the same to the party in Louisiana.

Landrieu has continued a laughable offensive to try to salvage state Democrats’ poor planning and execution of hurricane emergency policies. Her first effort was to attempt to argue that the federal government, Pres. George W. Bush in particular, had carelessly underfunded flood protection measures relative to New Orleans. But she was made to look stupid when it was revealed that the Bush Administration had sent more money to the state for these projects than did his Democrat predecessor, the Louisiana got more such money than any other state, that the Democrat-run state itself asked to divert monies from projects that would have made New Orleans safer (but not impregnable to flooding), and that Landrieu herself had used her influence to enable the diversion of money that could have been used on those projects.

So now she’s trying to blame the federal government’s, and by implication the Bush Administration’s, response to the disaster – an effort already revealed to have been compromised by the poor planning and lack of order courtesy of local and state actions. Why does she continue to embarrass herself on a national scale?

Part of it is national Democrats desperately looking for some kind of issue to use against Bush and the Republicans for a host of purposes – 2006 midterm Congressional elections, to stop the change of composition of the U.S. Supreme Court away from justices favoring the liberal agenda, and perhaps others. Since national Democrats repeatedly have had the electorate defeat their bankrupted, both in philosophy and in practice, agenda, they’ll grasp at any straw.

But Landrieu also no doubt is looking towards her 2008 reelection bid. Already perhaps the most vulnerable Democrat in the Senate, she’s looking to throw some red meat to the moonbat Left in Louisiana, whose support she must have to survive in office. Especially now that the Green Party, among others, can have its candidates appear on ballots with its label, this would make it harder to win outright the primary or to count on them voting for her in the general election runoff.

Because, as her Senate colleague Barack Obama demonstrated, Democrats also are trying to bring (as they do on practically every issue) race into the debate, this attack additionally attempts to shore up her credentials with the voting bloc most abused by state Democrats, blacks. However, Landrieu and her handlers don’t seem to understand that this tactic may well backfire.

The bloc to which she appealed in the wake of Katrina may in significant numbers already have fled the state never to return, leaving disproportionately those who do not participate much in politics. And far more remaining will be others sickened by the hypocrisy and opportunism of her attacks who might otherwise have voted for her.

Of course, the Left has shown repeatedly that it does not get it, that using its emotional arguments bereft of any real facts or logic (because it loses on both accounts) cannot win. Despite that, Landrieu has been able to salvage two close Senate elections. But as she digs a hole deeper and deeper with this rhetoric, three-in-a-row looks less and less likely.