Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) gives W. a big slap on the back for pushing through the Gulf Coast Wage Cut.
Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) gives W. a big slap on the back for pushing through the Gulf Coast Wage Cut.
Can we get a show of hands on where every member of Congress stands on this one? Fine, maybe we'll use a slightly more 21st Century method of getting everyone on the record. Tell us where your representative and senators stand.
As we noted last night, and Rep. Dingell (D-MI) was shrewd enough to note right off the bat in his statement last night, President Bush's first move after Katrina was to push through a Gulf Coast Wage Cut by executive order.
He really did. It hasn't gotten a lot of discussion because it gets wrapped up in a bunch of jargon about the Davis-Bacon Act and 'prevailing wages' and a bunch of other mumbojumbo to the point where people think it's about nutritional standards or breakfast foods. But that's what it does. It allows those companies lining up for a piece of that $200 or $300 billion to cut the wages of the folks who are actually going to do the work.
What sense does that make? It amounts to wage gouging. Bad values. And actually pretty bad macro-economics since as much as these disaster-stricken regions need roads rebuilt they need people who can take their families out to dinner and buy new clothes. And lower wages for folks involved in the reconstruction -- which is going to be a big slice of the population -- has a ripple effect across the board in those regions.
Anyway, no arguments or hassles. I'm just curious to find out where everyone stands. There was a group of lawmakers who sent a letter to the president asking him to pull the trigger on the Gulf Coast wage cut. So we know where they stand (we'll get that letter and let you know who). But how about everyone else. Ring up your representative or senator and ask. Or if you see their position on their website or in the paper, send us the link.
We'll make a list and see where everyone stands on the president's Gulf Coast Wage Cut.
A thought for some clever graphic artist: a juxtaposition.
And all you need to get is a copy of the Monday guitar image and then one from the speech last night. Caption one: "When Lives Are at Stake." Caption Two: "When Politics Is at Stake." Fiddle with the wording. But you get the idea.
Am I wrong?
Late Update: A TPM Reader has given it a try. And it looks pretty good.
From Brian Williams' blog ...
I am duty-bound to report the talk of the New Orleans warehouse district last night: there was rejoicing (well, there would have been without the curfew, but the few people I saw on the streets were excited) when the power came back on for blocks on end. Kevin Tibbles was positively jubilant on the live update edition of Nightly News that we fed to the West Coast. The mini-mart, long ago cleaned out by looters, was nonetheless bathed in light, including the empty, roped-off gas pumps. The motorcade route through the district was partially lit no more than 30 minutes before POTUS drove through. And yet last night, no more than an hour after the President departed, the lights went out. The entire area was plunged into total darkness again, to audible groans. It's enough to make some of the folks here who witnessed it... jump to certain conclusions.
Interesting use of DOJ resources. From The (Mississippi) Clarion-Ledger ...
Federal officials appear to be seeking proof to blame the flood of New Orleans on environmental groups, documents show.
The Clarion-Ledger has obtained a copy of an internal e-mail the U.S. Department of Justice sent out this week to various U.S. attorneys' offices: "Has your district defended any cases on behalf of the (U.S.) Army Corps of Engineers against claims brought by environmental groups seeking to block or otherwise impede the Corps work on the levees protecting New Orleans? If so, please describe the case and the outcome of the litigation."
Before anything else this morning, I want to thank you, or to be more precise, a very substantial percentage of you, for filling out the survey yesterday. We ran it for twenty-four hours and got a bit more than 18,600 respondents. So we're happy with the sample size.
Like last year, there were a few complaints about the lack of a sufficient number of categories to choose when asked to define oneself politically. There were also a few exceptions taken by folks whose profession wasn't mentioned in the 'what you do' category. No listing for scientist, farmer, artist, etc.
So allow me to explain. If I were building the survey from the ground up, I'd do it differently. But this was the exact same survey we did last year. And there was a utility to having a direct apples to apples comparison, to see what if any ways the audience has changed in the last eighteen months.
More particularly, though, the point of this exercise was not self-expression. It was to gain some basic data for advertisers. And lest that come off as snide, I don't mean it that way. If I were doing this survey out of my own curiosity or to understand my audience better, I would have designed it very differently. I'd have given a more finely nuanced range of possible political self-definitions, a different way of categorizing professions, and I'd also probably have asked a series of what I'd see as defining political questions -- ones which, I think, would be more revealing than labels.
In this case, I wanted to ask as few questions as possible (so I could honestly say that it would take little time) and get the information we really needed -- not for editorial purposes, but to get some basic data for advertisers. So that's the deal.
In any case, to return to the main point, almost twenty-thousand of you took the time to fill it out. And like I said yesterday, on a personal level, I really appreciate that. So thank you.
We'll be sharing the results with you when they're ready.
Let's see. What was the problem with Michael Brown exactly? Let's see. No expertise or experience for the job. Got the gig because he was pals with Bush's political fixer. Also a political loyalist.
So to learn the lesson and get back on track, to run the recovery, President Bush picks Karl Rove.
Do we really all need the paint by numbers version of this picture.
Then there's the president's great line from the speech: "It is now clear that a challenge on this scale requires greater federal authority and a broader role for the armed forces."
No, it's not. Actually, every actual fact that's surfaced in the last two weeks points to just the opposite conclusion. There was no lack of federal authority to handle the situation. There was faulty organization, poor coordination and incompetence.
Show me the instance where the federal government was prevented from doing anything that needed to be done because it lacked the requisite authority.
This is like what we were talking about a few days ago. This is how repressive governments operate -- mixing inefficiency with authoritarian tendencies.
You don't repair disorganized or incompetent government by granting it more power. You fix it by making it more organized and more competent. If conservatism can't grasp that point, what is it good for?
As for the military, same difference. The Army clearly has an important role to play in major domestic disasters. And they've been playing it in this case. But what broader role was required exactly?
As I've been saying, repressive governments mix adminsitrative clumsiness and inefficiency with authoritarian tendencies. That's almost always the pattern. The direction the president wants to go in is one in which, in emergencies, the federal government will have trouble moving water into or enabling transportation out of the disaster zone but will be well-equipped to declare martial law on a moment's notice.
Another pack of lies. Right in front of everyone.
Here's a project.
Who will be the first and who will be the last to broach the subject of whether the president's chief political operative should be in charge of the largest domestic reconstruction effort since the Civil War.
Let's list off some of the worthies ... Russert, Brian Williams, Times editorial page, Post editorial page, Stephanopoulos, Schiefer, Hume, Matthews, Wallace, Juan Williams, Will, Mitchell.
We'll make a list and put it up on a separate page. Let us know who broaches the subject and when. And we'll see who's the last one standing.
Who will push behind the spin?
I caught the latter part of the president's speech and then a few moments of coverage on NBC afterwards. And I quickly realized why I never watch television news anymore. Russert, Gregory and Williams (who's actually been pretty good through this whole thing -- online at least) talking about how well the president did on contrition, how it was new for him, how the president took responsibility, how important it is "not to let this become a tale of two cities." And on and on.
There's real news to be reported -- how the president is approaching the reconstruction, what plans he's putting in place right now. He's put his chief political operative in charge of running the reconstruction of the Gulf Coast. Shouldn't that be raising a lot of questions -- a man whose entire professional experience is in political messaging and patronage?
He's also at the center of on-going criminal investigation and the target of a much-rumored indictment. But set that aside.
Then there's what Rep. John D. Dingell (D-MI) said in his statement out this evening. "With a stroke of the pen, in one of his first Katrina directives, the President cut the wages of the workers who will undertake our largest reconstruction project since the Civil War."
That cuts right to the heart of the matter. The president's first major initiatives were deep wage cuts for the people who will do the reconstruction.
Which paper is going to dig into this?
President Bush: "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."
Let's all be clear about one thing.
As we suggested last night, and as President Bush has now put us on notice, the Gulf Coast reconstruction effort is going to be run as a patronage and political operation.
That's not spin or hyperbole. They're saying it themselves.
The president has put Karl Rove in charge of the reconstruction, with a budget of a couple hundred billion dollars.
They've announced this in various ways over the last few days. But here's another, from today's Times ...
Republicans said Karl Rove, the White House deputy chief of staff and Mr. Bush's chief political adviser, was in charge of the reconstruction effort, which reaches across many agencies of government and includes the direct involvement of Alphonso R. Jackson, secretary of housing and urban development.