BRANDOLAND: Talking to God...For You!

Monday, September 05, 2005

Labor Day

A lot of stuff today. Dig in.


Labor Day 2005...and the Bushies are working overtime.

Spinning. Deflecting. Blaming.

Remember last week when Scott "My Scott" McClellan said, "This is not a time to get into any finger pointing?"

It is now.

As a matter of fact, it's "Rove-time" to get into finger pointing.

From the NY Times:

White House Enacts a Plan to Ease Political Damage

Two kinds of truth in the world; THE TRUTH and BUSH-TRUTH.
UNDER THE COMMAND of President Bush's two senior political advisers, the White House rolled out a plan this weekend to contain the political damage from the administration's response to Hurricane Katrina.
Under the command.

It orchestrated visits by cabinet members to the region, leading up to an extraordinary return visit by Mr. Bush planned for Monday, directed administration officials not to respond to attacks from Democrats on the relief efforts, AND SOUGHT TO MOVE THE BLAME FOR THE SLOW RESPONSE TO LOUISIANA STATE OFFICIALS, according to Republicans familiar with the White House plan.

The effort is being directed by Mr. Bush's chief political adviser, KARL ROVE, and his communications director, DAN BARTLETT. It began late last week after Congressional Republicans called White House officials to register alarm about what they saw as a feeble response by Mr. Bush to the hurricane, according to Republican Congressional aides.


In many ways, the unfolding public relations campaign reflects the style Mr. Rove has brought to the political campaigns he has run for Mr. Bush.

For example, administration officials who went on television on Sunday were instructed to avoid getting drawn into exchanges about the problems of the past week, and to turn the discussion to what the government is doing now


In a reflection of what has long been a hallmark of Mr. Rove's tough political style, the administration is also working to shift the blame away from the White House and toward officials of New Orleans and Louisiana who, as it happens, are Democrats.

"The way that emergency operations act under the law is the responsibility and the power, the authority, to order an evacuation rests with state and local officials," Mr. Chertoff said in his television interview. "The federal government comes in and SUPPORTS those officials."

That "truth" has been debunked already, but they'll keep saying it.
That line of argument was echoed throughout the day, in harsher language, by Republicans reflecting the White House line.
This is why "Rove" will NOT be "frog marched" out of the WH in handcuffs.


More from the Washington Post.
Louisiana officials pushed back hard against the White House yesterday, sharply criticizing President Bush for offering a tentative and insufficient response to the obliteration of New Orleans and then trying to shift the blame to the state and local governments.

Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) accused Bush of failing to fund efforts to fortify the levee protecting New Orleans before Hurricane Katrina hit, and of failing to send troops, supplies and other assistance quickly enough in Katrina's aftermath.

"Would the president please stop taking photo-ops, and please come and see what I'm trying to show him?" Landrieu asked on ABC's "This Week."

SHE THREATENED TO "PUNCH" BUSH OR ANYONE ELSE WHO CRITICIZES THE RESPONSE OF THE LOCAL SHERIFFS, one day after administration officials blamed state and local authorities for missteps in relief and rescue efforts.
She should save her biggest punch for Karl.
Bush is trying to undo what many Republicans described as considerable damage to the White House inflicted by Bush's crisis management.

A senior White House aide said there was no reason for Bush to return to Washington to deal with the disaster before Wednesday, though he was told of the gravity of the situation in briefings late into the night on Monday.

Bush cut short his working vacation at his ranch near Crawford, Tex., but spent Tuesday night there.
"I'm done with my vacation, but...I'm gonna spend one more night in this bed."

"Yes, sir."

"No difference between this bed and the bed in the White House, right?"

The aide said Bush wanted to allow his Cabinet and staff time to get back to Washington and in place to brief him.
"Plus, I'm giving everyone extra time to...find out what's going brief me. I mean, they have more TV's than I do. They can watch FOX and CNN. At the same time. I've only got this one, so I can only go a channel at a time."

"Yes, sir."

Back to the LA officials:
"We're still fighting over authority," New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin said over the weekend. "A bunch of people are the boss. The state and the federal government are doing a two-step dance."

Landrieu, echoing the concerns of others, said that "it's mind-boggling to everyone in Louisiana, including myself, why the president did not send forces earlier." Blanco commands the vast majority of the National Guard troops and should be questioned as to why she did not move more quickly, the senior aide responded.

The White House is moving on several fronts to repair Bush's image and streamline its response effort. Bush will return to Louisiana and Mississippi today.


Bush, who typically works a fairly set schedule, has been working longer hours, getting in earlier than his usual 7 a.m. start and working as late as 9 p.m., at least two hours past his normal quitting time.
Got that?


Feel safer now?

My God.

CUE the "Star Wars" music - here comes "Dandy" Don Rumsfeld.

Editor & Publisher has been, uh, publishing key bits of info and personal accounts from the disaster:
"Meanwhile, Defense Secretary Donald H. RUMSFELD arrived in Louisiana today and toured a medical facility at the New Orleans international airport.

"'As the president said, it is a natural disaster of historic proportion,' Mr. Rumsfeld said in televised remarks to reporters after the tour. 'No one can come up with anything that approximates this in the history of our country,' he said, adding it would take many months or years for the area to fully recover.

"Upon his arrival at the airport, Mr. Rumsfeld spoke to and shook hands with military and rescue officials, BUT HE WALKED RIGHT BY A DOZEN REFUGEES LYING ON STRETCHERS JUST FEET AWAY FROM HIM, most of them extremely SICK OR HANDICAPPED, Reuters reported."


Spin that.

"They were sick and handicapped. They wanted to be left alone. Ever visited someone in the hospital?"


True story: Don Rumsfeld went to see Veruca Salt in concert - back in the day. I'm not gonna tell you how I know this, or why he was there, but it's a true story.

Told Nina "Veruca" that he "enjoyed the show," even though he was a little freaked out by it.

Back to THE TRUTH:

Hurricane Center Director Tells Paper He Briefed Brown and Chertoff on Danger of Severe Flooding

NEW YORK Dr. Max Mayfield, director of the National Hurricane Center, told the Times-Picayune Sunday afternoon that officials with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Department of Homeland Security, including FEMA Director Mike Brown and Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, listened in on electronic briefings given by his staff IN ADVANCE OF HURRICANE KATRINA slamming Louisiana and Mississippi--and were advised of the storm’s potential deadly effects.

"Mayfield said the strength of the storm and the potential disaster it could bring were made clear during both the briefings and in formal advisories, which warned of a storm surge capable of overtopping levees in New Orleans and winds strong enough to blow out windows of high-rise buildings," the paper reported. "He said the briefings included information on expected wind speed, storm surge, rainfall and the potential for tornados to accompany the storm as it came ashore.

"We were briefing them way before landfall," Mayfield said. "It’s not like this was a surprise. We had in the advisories that the levee could be topped."
"Max Mayfield. Hmm. Run a search, will ya? Gotta be some drugs or alcohol or girls...or something in this guy's past."

"Will do, sir."

"Young dudes. Hopefully."



There's a lot of info in this next aricle. If you want, skip down to the section on the Bushies attitude toward the Army Corps of Engineers. It's key.

You've all read this by now, but it's important to remember that...

Despite Warnings, Washington Failed to Fund Levee Projects

WASHINGTON — For years, Washington had been warned that doom lurked just beyond the levees.

And for years, the White House and Congress had dickered over how much money to put into shoring up century-old dikes and carrying out newer flood control projects to protect the city of New Orleans.

As recently as three months ago, the alarms were sounding — and being brushed aside.

In late May, the New Orleans district of the ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS formally notified Washington that hurricane storm surges could knock out two of the big pumping stations that must operate night and day even under normal conditions to keep the city dry.

Also, the Corps said, several levees had settled and would soon need to be raised. And it reminded Washington that an ambitious flood-control study proposed four years before remained just that — a written proposal never put into action for lack of funding.


The reasons the city's defenses were not strengthened enough to handle such a storm are deeply rooted in the politics and bureaucracy of Washington.

With the advantage of hindsight, the miscues seem even broader. Construction proposals were often underfunded or not completed. Washington officials could never agree on how much money would be needed to protect New Orleans. And there hung in the air a false sense of security that a storm like Katrina was a long shot anyway.

As a result, when the immediate crisis eases and inquiries into what went wrong begin, there is likely to be responsibility and blame enough for almost every institution in Washington, including the White House, Congress, the Army Corps of Engineers and a host of other federal agencies.

For example, Lt. Gen. Carl Strock, the Corps commander, conceded Friday that the government had known the New Orleans levees could never withstand a hurricane higher than a Category 3. Corps officials shuddered, he said, when they realized that Katrina was barreling down on the Gulf Coast with the vastly greater destructive force of a Category 5 — the strongest type of hurricane.

Washington, he said, had rolled the dice.

Rather than come up with the extra millions of dollars needed to make the city safer, officials believed that such a devastating storm was a small probability and that, with the level of protection that had been funded, "99.5% of the time this would work."
Okay. Let's deal with the Army Corps of Engineers.

A fantastic organization. Built Cochiti Lake in NM; spent many Saturdays there as a kid .

Pushed out of the way in Iraq, though, as the crony companies (Halliburton, Bechtel, et al) get the GIGS THE CORPS USED TO DO FOR UNCLE SAM.

Here we go:
In the case of New Orleans and flood control, another factor was at work: the reputation of the Corps of Engineers.

Over the years, many in Washington had come to regard the Corps as an out-of-control agency that championed huge projects and sometimes exaggerated need and benefits.
Many...REPUBLICANS had come to regards the Corps as an out-of-control agency, because they wanted to PRIVATIZE the system.
The Corps began as a tiny regiment during the Revolutionary War era; it now employs about 35,000 people to build dams, deepen harbors, dig ditches and erect seawalls, among other things.

But CRITICS say some projects are MAKE-WORK boondoggles.
Actually, "critics" say they know some private companies that can do those same projects "cheaper" and "more efficiently."
In 2000, Corps leaders were found to have manipulated an economic study to justify a Mississippi River project that would have cost billions. The agency also launched a secret growth initiative to boost its budget by 50%. And the Pentagon found in 2000 that the Corps' cost-benefit analyses were systematically skewed to warrant large-scale construction projects.

As a result, said a senior staffer with the Senate Appropriations Committee who spoke on condition of anonymity, requests by the Corps for flood control money were especially vulnerable to budget cutting. "A lot of people just look at it as pork," said the staffer.

The Bush administration's former budget director, MITCH DANIELS, was known as an aggressive advocate for CORPS REFORM who cast a skeptical eye on its budget requests.
Corps reform.

There's that pesky word "reform" again.

Social Security reform. Tax reform. Corps reform.



"Uh, less."

Game show buzzer sound indicating "wrong answer."
"The Army Corps of Engineers has a very large budget, and it has grown a lot over recent years," Daniels, now the governor of Indiana, said. "To the extent there's been any limitation of [the Corps'] budget, it has to do with previous tendencies to build marinas and things that don't have much to do with preparing us for disaster."

It has to do with the Corps taking on projects that are not profitable in the short term.


More lame excuses from the WH:
The Bush White House maintains it never ignored the security needs of the Gulf Coast.

"Flood control has been a priority of this administration from Day One," said White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan.

He said hundreds of millions of dollars were spent in the New Orleans area in recent years for flood prevention, and he said the failure of the levees was not a matter of money so much as a problem with drawing the right plans for the dike work and other improvements.

"It's been more of a design issue with the levees," he said.

Other administration officials said there were not enough construction companies and equipment to handle all the work that had been proposed.
It's been more of a design issue - and there weren't enough construction companies.


Halliburton landed a contract to clean up the city, though.

A job the Corps used to do, me bets.

My head hurts.

More later...


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