Thursday, September 01, 2005

Want to know what the GOP REALLY thinks of Katrina victims?

This was just seen on the New Orleans Times-Picayune blog:

Thursday, September 01, 2005

House Speaker: Rebuilding N.O. doesn't make sense
Thursday, 2:55 p.m.

By Bill Walsh
Washington bureau

WASHINGTON - House Speaker Dennis Hastert dropped a bombshell on flood-ravaged New Orleans on Thursday by suggesting that it isn’t sensible to rebuild the city."It doesn't make sense to me," Hastert told the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago in editions published today. "And it's a question that certainly we should ask."Hastert's comments came as Congress cut short its summer recess and raced back to Washington to take up an emergency aid package expected to be $10 billion or more. Details of the legislation are still emerging, but it is expected to target critical items such as buses to evacuate the city, reinforcing existing flood protection and providing food and shelter for a growing population of refugees.The Illinois Republican’s comments drew an immediate rebuke from Louisiana officials.“That’s like saying we should shut down Los Angeles because it’s built in an earthquake zone,” former Sen. John Breaux, D-La., said. “Or like saying that after the Great Chicago fire of 1871, the U.S. government should have just abandoned the city.” Hastert said that he supports an emergency bailout, but raised questions about a long-term rebuilding effort. As the most powerful voice in the Republican-controlled House, Hastert is in a position to block any legislation that he opposes."We help replace, we help relieve disaster," Hastert said. "But I think federal insurance and everything that goes along with it... we ought to take a second look at that."The speaker’s comments were in stark contrast to those delivered by President Bush during an appearance this morning on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”“I want the people of New Orleans to know that after rescuing them and stabilizing the situation, there will be plans in place to help this great city get back on its feet,” Bush said. “There is no doubt in my mind that New Orleans is going to rise up again as a great city.”Insurance industry executives estimated that claims from the storm could range up to $19 billion. Rebuilding the city, which is more than 80 percent submerged, could cost tens of billions of dollars more, experts projected.Hastert questioned the wisdom of rebuilding a city below sea level that will continue to be in the path of powerful hurricanes."You know we build Los Angeles and San Francisco on top of earthquake issures and they rebuild, too. Stubbornness," he said.Hastert wasn't the only one questioning the rebuilding of New Orleans. The Waterbury, Conn., Republican-American newspaper wrote an editorial Wednesday entitled, "Is New Orleans worth reclaiming?""Americans' hearts go out to the people in Katrina's path," it said. "But if the people of New Orleans and other low-lying areas insist on living in harm's way, they ought to accept responsibility for what happens to them and their property."

Well, now, how's THAT for pouring gasoline on a fire? If this was in an area where there were tons of Republicans, rather than the poor and minorities, do you think they would say this?

This dumb ex-wrestling coach from Yorkville, IL is the Speaker of the House? We are in doomed times, people.


mike said...

Sorry, dude, you're letting your politics color your common sense. Step back from the human tragedy a moment. There are two breaches of the levees (at least) that have to be repaired first. Then the whole NO basin has to be drained and the ground stabilised again. THEN, everything has to be razed and cleared away.

It's not just rehabbing an old city. It's razing a ruin and rebuilding an ENTIRE NEW CITY. The cost will be astronomical, to say the least. It's reasonable to ask if it should be attempted or not.

This very question occurred to me on Tuesday, when I blogged about it. It may seem callous, but it's not. Please don't use the Katrina tragedy to score political points. I'd like to think you're better than that.

mike said...

Two points I missed: One, do you realise how difficult it will be to repair the levees when they are under water? Find some engineers and ask them. The city is now sitting in its "normal" place, vis a vis the surrounding lake and ocean. To rebuild it would be to return it to its "abnormal" location *below sea level* and dry. That's daunting. Ask the folks in Holland and Denmark.

Second, the water covering the land is contaminated with all kinds of sewage and toxic chemicals. God only knows what. A whole lot of government agencies will have to approve the quality of the land before they allow anyone to build on it. And where will the old and contaminated soil go? You're talking tens of square miles of dirt! Answer me that.

Hastert's remarks may have been inelegantly put and grossly mistimed, but these are real questions we will soon have to face.

LeftWingCracker said...


Maybe they should hire you to speak for them. You raise very good points, as I agree that there is a real possibility that they may NOT be able to rebuild.

However, someone who has attained the level of responsibility that Hastert has should know how to phrase things better than that; that's why they have handlers.

His comments reminded me of the classic NY Post headline: Ford to NYC: Drop Dead.

I do agree that this will be an engineering nightmare of epic proportions.

mike said...

Ah, Steve, remember that Ford didn't say that. It was the NYP's headline writer. Ford said that the US government wouldn't bail NYC out of its self-created financial problems. The NYP reacted like a child who's had her allowance cut off.

New Orleans is a very different thing. City leaders have known for years this kind of tragedy was coming and did little about it. This isn't about a helping hand, or rebuilding a damaged city, but *recreating* a vanished one.

Your larger point about watching what you say and where you say it is right. But we all make mistakes. I don't know if you remember earlier this year, Senator Ted Kennedy pointedly questioning someone in a Senate hearing about being able to escape from a submerged vehicle. An aide ran to him, whispered in his ear. He changed the subject.

We're all human. Cut some slack here and focus on the tragedy's real problems. :-)

Richmond said...

These are matters that cannot be decided by rationing money or some other form of mathematical calculation. New Orleans is a place of unique culture, ambience and life, not unlike Memphis in many respects. Money is not the issue, not nearly as much as history and a sense of "place." If Hastert and Mike want to save money, tell them to either eviscerate spending on their favorite federal and state projects or restore the tax breaks enacted since President Bush's selection in 2001. I seem to recall a surplus somewhere--

mike said...

Sigh.... Richmond, I'm a Libertarian, so I'd love to make some substantial cuts. I'm not sure you'd like them all, though.

The world is not all Republican / Democratic sloganeering. Save your reflexive, automatic thinking for other topics, OK?

It's not the time to discuss it, most definitely, but if NO is as bad as it appears, then questioning recreating *is* legitimate. Like the song said, "You are my friend / So sad it had to end / Some broken things don't mend / Lie where they fall."

soandsodem said...

I just think it's kind of interesting that Mr. Hastert never got around to saying in 1993, after the great Mississippi River flood:
"But if the people of Des Moines and other low-lying areas insist on living in harm's way, they ought to accept responsibility for what happens to them and their property."

JB said...

Acetually, soandsodem, while Hastert, for obvious and understandable reasons, did no such thing back then, media moll Cokie Roberts did, right in the face of the then governor of Iowa, a Republican, who, for obvious and understandable reasons, made a face. Mike is wrong in his conclusions (New Orleans should be rebuilt, just as the Twin Towers should have been rebuilt) but right in saying that politics should stop at — the water's edge.

BraveCordovaDem said...

In addition to other comments about rebuilding New Orleans, does anyone out there realize that the City is not there just to give us a place to indulge our hedonistic fantasies? People down there haven't made their living by just serving drinks and showing us their nekkid bodies. The Port of New Orleans is one of the Nation's largest and most important. We are seeing an immediate effect on oil prices but other economic reverbations are coming as well.

So while you feel for the suffering of the people, as I do, also realize that there is a practical reason for NO being where it is (similar to San Francisco) and for rebuilding it only with a stronger infrastructure to protect it in the future.

SalsaLarry said...

Actually, the whole area up to Baton Rouge is one big port. The Port of South Louisiana extends 54 miles along the Mississippi River between New Orleans and Baton Rouge centering approximately at LaPlace, Louisiana.

Let's get the port operating and the transportation infrastructure rebuilt. Interesting enough, the north-south railroad line is open as far south as Hammond, LA and it appears that only the lack of power in New Orleans is stopping CN from opening it the rest of the way. Amtrak and CN could be hauling people and freight much more efficiently than trucks at the moment.

There has been a lot of environmental damage due to all the levees and efforts done that made New Orleans what is was. They also contributed to the current disaster. The Mississippi Delta is disappearing. Without the Delta, New Orleans is at the mercy of the storm surges.

Now is the time to reassess the whole structure and environmental impact. We shouldn't rush to reestablish the former status quo of New Orleans.

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