Nearly three weeks after Hurricane Katrina cut its devastating path, FEMA - the same federal agency that botched the rescue mission - is faltering in its effort to aid hundreds of thousands of storm victims, local officials, evacuees and top federal relief officials say. The federal aid hot line mentioned by President Bush in his address to the nation on Thursday cannot handle the flood of calls, leaving thousands of people unable to get through for help, day after day.Because we know Mr. Rove has an absolute genius for the administration of large bureaucracies, and for fixing "fragmented and dysfunctional system[s]". Right? And where is Michael Chertoff in all of this?
Federal officials are often unable to give local governments permission to proceed with fundamental tasks to get their towns running again. Most areas in the region still lack federal help centers, the one-stop shopping sites for residents in need of aid for their homes or families. Officials say that they are uncertain whether they can meet the president's goal of providing housing for 100,000 people who are now in shelters by the middle of next month.
While the agency has redoubled its efforts to get food, money and temporary shelter to the storm victims, serious problems remain throughout the affected region. Visits to several towns in Louisiana and Mississippi, as well as interviews with dozens of local and federal officials, provide a portrait of a fragmented and dysfunctional system.
Actually, this is where we see Mr. Rove's hand:
President Bush said Friday that rebuilding the Gulf Coast would "cost whatever it costs," that he would not raise taxes to pay for the recovery and that at least some of the expense would have to be offset by budget cuts in other programs.
His call for some sacrifices in the federal budget came just a day after he addressed the nation in prime time from an outdoor lectern in New Orleans, where he promised to rebuild the city and the surrounding Gulf Coast, heavily damaged by Hurricane Katrina. Mr. Bush used a national day of remembrance for the storm victims on Friday to expand on the themes of racial injustice that he touched upon the night before, telling a packed service at the National Cathedral, "As we clear away the debris of a hurricane, let us also clear away the legacy of inequality."
Taken together with his speech in Jackson Square on Thursday night, Mr. Bush's comments were part of an effort to shift the focus to promises of rebuilding and recovery and away from criticism that the White House had been callous in its slowness in helping the storm victims, many of them black.
See, we're going to wipe out poverty in the South, by not doing anything about it elsewhere in the country. Because we all know "other programs" won't include defense spending (except on the troops) or money to "rebuild Iraq" (i.e. fatten Halliburton).