Following in the footsteps of Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill and Press Secretary Scott McClellan, former Department of Homeland Security head Tom Ridge becomes the latest ex-Bushie to pen a troubling tell-all: The Test of Our Times: America Under Siege…and How We Can Be Safe Again.
According to US News: “Ridge was never invited to sit in on National Security Council meetings; was ‘blindsided’ by the FBI in morning Oval Office meetings because the agency withheld critical information from him; found his urgings to block Michael Brown from being named head of the emergency agency blamed for the Hurricane Katrina disaster ignored; and was pushed to raise the security alert on the eve of President Bush’s re-election, something he saw as politically motivated and worth resigning over.” Good of you to bring this all up years down the pike, Gov. Ridge — truly a profile in courage.
After eight long years, the end is in sight, and the Idiot Wind is at long last subsiding. For the 43rd president of these United States, George Dubya Bush, gave his final press conference today, during which he finally conceded that “there have been disappointments.” Why, yes, yes, there have. “Abu Ghraib obviously was a huge disappointment during the presidency. Not having weapons of mass destruction was a significant disappointment. I don’t know if you want to call those mistakes or not, but they were — things didn’t go according to plan, let’s put it that way.” Um, yeah.
At any rate, don’t worry: I’m sure we’ll be getting one last round of 9/11, 9/11, 9/11 before closing time, when Dubya delivers his “farewell address” on Thursday. One can only hope that it turns out to be Eisenhoweresque, and not one more final, futile attempt to rewrite the history books. But I’m not keeping my fingers crossed.
“The Wall Street titans have turned into a bunch of welfare clients. They are desperate to be bailed out by government from their own incompetence, and from the deregulatory regime for which they lobbied so hard…It’s just fine to make it harder for the average Joe to file for bankruptcy, as did that wretched bankruptcy bill passed by Congress in 2005 at the request of the credit card industry. But the big guys are ‘too big to fail’ because they could bring us all down with them.” After the Bear Stearns deal and all it would seem to portent about the condition of the Dubya economy, E.J. Dionne reads the riot act to free market fundies.
In related news, WP’s Dan Froomkin’s notes how Dubya’s handling of the economy is now being compared to the aftermath of Katrina. ‘As the storm clouds gathered, was President Bush once again asleep at the wheel? A consistent theme in today’s political and economic coverage is that Bush’s failure to recognize the severity of the ongoing financial crisis and act accordingly is reminiscent of his disastrously slow and inept response to Hurricane Katrina….’As with the war in Afghanistan, the Iraqi war aftermath, the Hurricane Katrina disaster and current efforts at Mideast peace, investors are concerned that the president is responding too late and with inadequate understanding, resources and creativity.'”
“A lot of people down here probably wondered whether or not those of us in the federal government not from Louisiana would pay attention to Louisiana or Mississippi…And I hope people understand we do. We’re still paying attention. We understand.” Dubya marks the second anniversary of Hurricane Katrina by mouthing platitudes in New Orleans, claiming “this town is better today than it was yesterday. And it’s going to be better tomorrow than it was today” (He might have more credibility on this if he hadn’t said the same thing about Iraq for four years and running.) Says TIME’s Michael Grunwald of Dubya’s claim: “Many of the same coastal scientists and engineers who sounded alarms about the vulnerability of New Orleans long before Katrina are warning that the Army Corps is poised to repeat its mistakes — and extend them along the entire Louisiana coast. If you liked Katrina, they say, you’ll love what’s coming next.” And see also Looka’s evaluation of how far we — haven’t — come in the two years since this man-made disaster. It’s shameful.
“As the Hurricane Katrina anniversary coverage blows out to sea and New Orleans braces for another year of neglect, it’s worth pausing to consider the fallout from the disaster that was previously deemed the worst in U.S. history — the 1927 Mississippi flood.” Slate‘s David Greenberg takes a moment to remember the big 1927 flood, which significantly altered New Era attitudes about the appropriate duties of the federal government (and will also play a significant role in the latter half of my dissertation.)
“Seen the arrow on the doorpost saying, ‘This land is condemned, all the way from New Orleans to Jerusalem.’ I traveled through East Texas where many martyrs fell, and I know no one can sing the blues like Blind Willie McTell.” Or Kind Willie Clinton, for that matter…a belated happy birthday to our ex-president, who turned 60 yesterday.
“The eight-month, bipartisan investigation’s central finding is that FEMA should be replaced by a new National Preparedness and Response Authority. Its head would report to the secretary of Homeland Security but serve as the president’s top adviser for national emergency matters, akin to the military role played by the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.” As hurricane season nears, the future of FEMA becomes a political football between the Senate (who favors abolishing it) and the White House (who doesn’t.) The Senate report also “singled out President Bush and the White House as appearing indifferent to the devastation until two days after the storm hit.“
“‘In 1906, San Francisco was the largest city west of the Rockies. We had 400,000 people in the city,’ Eisner said. ‘Today we have 7 million in the Bay Area. And the consequences of a disaster of this magnitude in an urban area are significant.’” On the eve of tomorrow’s centennial of the great San Francisco earthquake, a new study suggests another Big One would mean a Katrina-level disaster for the Bay Area. “Seismologists generally agree that a repeat of a 1906-size earthquake is inevitable, though when and where along the fault are unknown. In 2002, the U.S. Geological Survey reported a 62 percent chance of a magnitude-6.7 earthquake or greater hitting the Bay Area within 30 years.” And, in a related story, historians look for lessons for post-Katrina New Orleans amid the rubble of 1906.
“‘This makes it perfectly clear once again that this disaster was not out of the blue or unforeseeable,’ said Sen. David Vitter (R-La.)…’It was not only predictable, it was actually predicted. That’s what makes the failures in response — at the local, state and federal level — all the more outrageous.'” A newly released video shows a typically incurious Dubya being warned — before Katrina hit — that the New Orleans levees might break. Of course, we already knew Dubya lied about the levees, but, still, a picture is worth a thousand words.