Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Morning copy 9.7.2005


"Katrina is about to blow a hole in the federal budget," New York Times. It would be "politically unpalatable" to benefit the rich and cut from the poor after the pathetic government response to Katrina. Excerpt:

On Monday, the Senate majority leader, Bill Frist, postponed plans to push for a vote on repealing the estate tax, a move that would benefit the wealthiest 1 percent of households, costing more than $70 billion a year once fully put in effect.

House and Senate leaders are also grappling with their pre-hurricane plan to propose $35 billion in spending cuts over the next five years for entitlement programs like Medicaid, student loans, food stamps and welfare payments.

Those cuts could suddenly prove politically unpalatable to Mr. Bush and Republican lawmakers, who are trying to rebuff criticism that the federal government shortchanged the hurricane's poorest victims.

"Dank and putrid" water may make New Orleans unsafe for years, Washington Post.

Tom DeLay shifts the blame-game to the lowest levels, CNN. A tough meeting as well. Excerpt:

[DeLay]: "the emergency response system was set up to work from the bottom up," then announced a short time later that House hearings examining that response had been canceled.

Rep. Tom DeLay, R-Texas, said House Republican leaders instead want a joint House-Senate panel set up to conduct a "congressional review" of the issue.

Tempers flared Tuesday during a contentious closed-door meeting between House members and Cabinet secretaries in charge of directing Katrina relief efforts. A Republican representative stood up and said, "All of you deserve failing grades. The response was a disaster," CNN was told by lawmakers emerging from the meeting.

ABC's The Note opined that Bush would need GOP loyalty and discipline to maintain his political clout, and leads us to believe that he may have it:

In fact, just as one bipartisan Senate panel announced it would hold hearings to see what went wrong, several GOP senators said that top leaders at the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency should not have to testify -- raising obvious questions about the purpose of the hearings in the first place.

"I'm not one that is running around trying to fix blame," says Sen. Trent Lott, R-Miss., who lost his own antebellum home in Pascagoula. "It never is perfect after a natural disaster." (Lott has a second home in Jackson.)

Lott says that if the Senate holds hearings about the government's response to Katrina, neither Michael Chertoff, secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, nor Michael D. Brown, head of FEMA, should have to attend. "I think hearings are in order, but the first hearings should be about what we can do that would be helpful," says the former Senate majority leader. He described President Bush as "strong" in his response to the storm.

Dan Balz and the deepened political divide in Washington, WaPo. Excerpt:

The starkly different verdicts on Bush's stewardship of the two biggest crises of his presidency underscore the deepening polarization of the electorate that has occurred on his watch. This gaping divide has left the president with no reservoir of good will among his political opponents at a critical moment of national need and has touched off a fresh debate about whether he could have done anything to prevent it.

No doubt the political climate is more divided, and each issue strikes a higher political note. However, Katrina was no 9/11. It approached as an apparent threat, known throughout the country. Bush then played country-music-star and handed out cake while the levees burst.

Gas supplies remain spotty in the South East, Atlanta Journal Constitution.


"Sadr city success story" in the Los Angeles Times, and alliteration matters in headlines. Excerpt:

"We're making a huge impact," Gayton said as his men pulled up to a sewer station newly repaired with U.S. funds. "It has been incredibly safe, incredibly quiet and incredibly secure."

Sadr City has become one of the rare success stories of the U.S. reconstruction effort, say local residents, Iraqi and U.S. officials. Although vast swaths remain blighted, the neighborhood of 2 million mostly impoverished Shiites is one of the calmest in Baghdad. One U.S. soldier has been killed and one car bomb detonated in the last year, the military says.

U.S. forces hand over complete control (at least on the ground) of the holy city (for Shiites) of Najaf, WaPo.

Huessein reportedly confessed to massacre, NY Times.

Baseball in Iraq, NY Times.

Christopher Hitchens

Slate's article, an Excerpt:

So, George Bush has already paid, as he should, a weighty political price for his literally fatal insouciance. What I cannot understand is why the people of Baghdad and Basra should be punished for a meteorological catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico. We should get out and leave them to their own devices. We need the stuff at home, goddamn it. This has all the charm and beauty of John Kerry saying that we ought not to be opening firehouses in Baghdad while closing them in the United States. It also has all the easy appeal of a zero-sum, provincial, isolationist mentality.

Supreme Court

President Bush joked, floated a trial balloon and raised the ire of conservatives in one phrase, NY Times.

More links

Japan's quasi-one-party system, NY Times.

As China develops, negative views of the U.S. increase, Christian Science Monitor.

Paul Volcker's report on the "oil-for-food" scandal will decry the U.N. for "corrosive corruption", Guardian.

Promises to help the world's poor are at a crucial point, BBC.

Yahoo! accused of helping Chinese government arrest reporter, BBC.


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