Opinions, Context & Ideas from the TPM Editors TPM Editor's Blog

Give the president his

Give the president his due. His statement -- the full transcript of which we've published below -- is couched in an attempt to minimize the role of federal mismanagement in the Katrina disaster. And in the second paragraph of the response his speechwriters appear to be setting up a new line of attack -- that those who criticize the federal response are in fact criticizing the first responders on the scene. But many of us have been pointing out for more than four years President Bush's refusal to take responsibility for anything that has happened on his watch as president. So kudos for the first.

But responsibility means accountability, not just words but deeds. And that means no cover-up.

The president says he wants to know what went wrong. The public has a right to know, since their immediate safety from natural disasters and terrorist attacks is at stake. And that means an independent commission to investigate what went wrong and why.

Ethics, logic and an elementary grasp of human nature say that the person responsible for the failures can't be the person investigating them. Same goes for a commission controlled by that person's political supporters. Can anyone argue with that?

Which Democrat, building on what the president said today, will get in front of a microphone and say it?

No cover-ups, no cronyism.

Word for word what

Word for word, what the president said ...

President Bush: Thank you.

A couple of questions. Two a side. Nedra.

Question: Mr. President, given what happened with Katrina, shouldn't Americans be concerned if their government isn't prepared to respond to another disaster or even a terrorist attack?

President Bush: Katrina exposed serious problems in our response capability at all levels of government. And to the extent that the federal government didn't fully do its job right, I take responsibility. I want to know what went right and what went wrong. I want to know how to better cooperate with state and local government, to be able to answer that very question that you asked: Are we capable of dealing with a severe attack or another severe storm. And that's a very important question. And it's in our national interest that we find out exactly what went on and -- so that we can better respond.

One thing for certain; having been down there three times and have seen how hard people are working, I'm not going to defend the process going in, but I am going to defend the people who are on the front line of saving lives. Those Coast Guard kids pulling people out of the -- out of the floods are -- did heroic work. The first responders on the ground, whether they be state folks or local folks, did everything they could. There's a lot of people that are -- have done a lot of hard work to save lives.

And so I want to know what went right and what went wrong to address those. But I also want people in America to understand how hard people are working to save lives down there in not only New Orleans, but surrounding parishes and along the Gulf Coast.


More on this in a <$NoAd$> moment.

A news report out

A news report out today says that the Inspector General of DHS, Richard L. Skinner, will keep tabs on the FEMA contracting bonanza to make sure there's no funny-business.

A quick perusal of his bio at the DHS website shows at least no obvious signs of cronydom. Before coming to DHS, says the bio, "Mr. Skinner was with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), where he served as the Acting Inspector General (October 2002 - February 2003) and Deputy Inspector General ( April 1996 - September 2002). From June 1991 to March 1996, Mr. Skinner served at FEMA OIG as the Assistant Inspector General for Audits."

Not definitive certainly, but shows at least that he worked in what is or should be a professional position under Bush I and Clinton.

On the other hand, word has been out for years now that DHS is a mess of insiderism and mismanagement. So his ability to intervene may be limited.

Someone alert the Secret

Someone alert the Secret Service! Has the real President Bush been abducted and replaced by a stand-in?

President Bush: "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 guess this is an example of that old saw, "If at first your efforts to blame everybody else don't succeed, take responsibility yourself."

We'll get cracking on that four horsemen of the Apocalypse timeline.

Good question Presumably some

Good question: Presumably some fancy set is going to be put together for the president's address Thursday night. What's the taxpayer price tag for the event?

Shame on meA short

Shame on me!

A short while back we met Duke Cunningham's most recent crony, Brent Wilkes. His place got hit in one of the more recent federal law enforcement raids tied to the Duke investigation.

With all those signs, I should have known there was a boat ("14.5-foot, 170-horsepower fiberglass boat") for Duke somewhere in the mix. The San Diego Union-Tribune has the story.

The Post has another

The Post has another article this morning about the very real concerns over whether FEMA can manage administering more than $50 billion of federal relief, recovery and reconstruction contracts. We're going to rue the day on this one. Even if FEMA were a perfectly managed agency and existed in a clean administration, it is simply not an agency that is set up to handle money on this scale -- certainly not in a case like this which will involve rebuilding a substantial section of the country. And of course, it's not a well-run agency at the moment. And this administration is defined by cronyism and insider deals.

I just saw news over the wires that President Bush will address the nation tonight Thursday at 9 PM from Louisiana.

Democrats should be speaking with one voice on this one: accountability, an independent commission to investigate what went wrong and no insider deals with taxpayer money.

Anyone out there got

Anyone out there got any more interesting info about the fundraiser Tom DeLay's ARMPAC held at Jack Abramoff's skybox at the MCI Center on December 14th, 2001? Basketball game, Wizards Knicks. Put together by Warren RoBold, the guy Ronnie Earle indicted down in Texas.

Far as I know, this one's never been publicly disclosed.

Certainly comes after that big falling out between DeLay and Abramoff.

U.S. Fire Administrator David

"U.S. Fire Administrator David Paulison said in the first 48 to 72 hours of an emergency, many Americans will likely to have to look after themselves." CNN, Feb. 10, 2003.

Maybe he was trying to give those folks in NOLA a heads up?

Solid Waste Recycling magazine

Solid Waste & Recycling magazine isn't one of the sites we usually link to. But they seem to have some news relevant to recent events ...

Overlooked in many news reports about the unfolding storm disaster in the southern United States, especially in the City of New Orleans, in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina, is a potentially dramatic pollution issue related to a toxic landfill that sits under the flood waters right in the city's downtown, according to map overlays of the flooded area. The situation could exacerbate the already dire threat to human health and the environment from the flood waters.

The Agriculture Street Landfill (ASL) is situated on a 95-acre site in New Orleans, Orleans Parish, Louisiana. The ASL is a federally registered Superfund site, and is on the National Priorities List of highly contaminated sites requiring cleanup and containment. A few years ago the site, which sits underneath and beside houses and a school, was fenced and covered with clean soil. However, three feet or more of flood waters could potentially cause the landfill's toxic contents – the result of decades of municipal and industrial waste dumping – to leach out.


Thanks to TPM Reader BD for <$NoAd$> the tip.

LiveWire