Tag Archives: federal government

Katrina underscores the issues in the Bush Administration

Hurricane Katrina 003  view of Thrift Shop and Water Well 1

For the next several days, I will re-post some of the things that I typed more than 10 years ago about Hurricane Katrina.

From the Center for American Progress:

1,833 lives lost. 270,000 homes destroyed. $55 billion in insured damage. Up to $1.4 billion in American tax dollars wasted by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Today, the costs of Hurricane Katrina are still staggering. But even more staggering has been the slow pace of recovery on the Gulf Coast. No one was happy with the federal government’s initial response to the hurricane. Eighty percent of the American public think the federal government’s response could have been “much better,” and in September President Bush stated, “This government will learn the lessons of Hurricane Katrina.”

But at Katrina’s one-year anniversary, it is clear that the nation is still waiting for the help Bush promised. Sunday, as part of the White House’s “public relations blitz,” Bush trumpeted in his weekly radio address that the federal government has “committed $110 billion to the recovery effort.”

But those billions of dollars have yet “to translate into billions in building.” Perhaps most disappointingly, Bush has forgotten about his promise to the nation to confront poverty “with bold action.

more

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Bush has clearly said that he doesn’t care.  When his poll numbers tanked, he tried to pretend that he cared.  Fortunately, America didn’t buy it.

We have made more progress in Iraq than we have in New Orleans and we haven’t done squat in Iraq.

How Texans Love and Hate the Federal Government

Flooding in Dallas

It was just about a month ago when Greg Abbott, the governor of Texas, announced that he and the Texas National Guard were going to keep an eye on the US Military just in case our military decided to take over Texas and several other states. Then the heavens opened up and dumped tons and tons of rain on Texas. This same governor couldn’t ask for Federal disaster relieve quick enough.

From Robert Reich:

Texans dislike the federal government even more than most other Americans do. According to a February poll conducted by the University of Texas and the Texas Tribune, only 23 percent of Texans view the federal government favorably, while 57 percent view it unfavorably, including more than a third who hold a “very unfavorable” view.

Texas dislikes the federal government so much that eight of its congressional representatives, along with Senator Ted Cruz, opposed disaster relief for the victims of Hurricane Sandy – adding to the awkwardness of their lobbying for the federal relief now heading Texas’s way.

Yet even before the current floods, Texas had received more disaster relief than any other state, according to a study by the Center for American Progress. That’s not simply because the state is so large. It’s also because Texas is particularly vulnerable to extreme weather – tornadoes on the plains, hurricanes in the Gulf, flooding across its middle and south.

Given this, you might also think Texas would take climate change especially seriously. But here again, there’s cognitive dissonance between what the state needs and how its officials act.

Among Texas’s infamous climate-change deniers is Lamar Smith, chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, who dismissed last year’s report by the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change as “more political than scientific,“ and the White House report on the urgency of addressing climate change as designed “to frighten Americans.” Smith is still at it. His committee just slashed by more than 20 percent NASA’s spending on Earth science, which includes climate change. (more…)

Linda Monk discusses the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (Update)

Let’s go to school. I was confused about the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Was does it do? Why was it necessary? Why was Section Five so important? Constitutional scholar Linda Monk answers all of these questions and more.

As you listen to this podcast, I would encourage you to check out some references. First, here is the Voting Rights Act. Secondly, Linda mentions a case that I had never heard of – South Carolina verses Katzenbach (more information here). You should also review the 15th amendment, which gives Congress the power to make voting fair across the US. We discuss the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down Section Five of the Voting Rights Act. Finally, we discuss Eric Holder’s bid to try and make sure that elections are fair for everyone.

This is a great interview and conversation. Sit back and enjoy.

Update: Linda Monk clarifies: “FYI, technically the Supreme Court did NOT decide to strike down Section 5 of the VRA; it struck down the threshold definition used in Section 4, which meant that Section 5 did not kick in.” As usual, I was kind of clueless. So, I went back to the Voting Rights Act and looked at Section 4. Of course, Linda is correct. Here’s how ScotusBlog puts it – Today the Court issued its decision in Shelby County v. Holder, the challenge to the constitutionality of the preclearance provisions of the Voting Rights Act. That portion of the Act was designed to prevent discrimination in voting by requiring all state and local governments with a history of voting discrimination to get approval from the federal government before making any changes to their voting laws or procedures, no matter how small. In an opinion by Chief Justice John Roberts that was joined by Justices Scalia, Kennedy, Thomas, and Alito, the Court did not invalidate the principle that preclearance can be required. But much more importantly, it held that Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act, which sets out the formula that is used to determine which state and local governments must comply with Section 5’s preapproval requirement, is unconstitutional and can no longer be used. Thus, although Section 5 survives, it will have no actual effect unless and until Congress can enact a new statute to determine who should be covered by it.