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Molly Ivans: Katrina's Lesson that Politics Matters

Excerpts from Molly Ivans latest collumn:

"This is a column for everyone in the path of Hurricane Katrina who ever said, 'I'm sorry, I'm just not interested in politics,' or, 'There's nothing I can do about it,' or, 'Eh, they're all crooks anyway.'....

Had a storm the size of Katrina just had the grace to hold off for a while, it's quite likely no one would even remember what the Bush administration did two months ago. The national press corps has the attention span of a gnat, and trying to get anyone in Washington to remember longer than a year ago is like asking them what happened in Iznik, Turkey, in A.D. 325.

Just plain political bad luck that, in June, Bush took his little ax and chopped $71.2 million from the budget of the New Orleans Corps of Engineers, a 44 percent reduction. As was reported in New Orleans CityBusiness at the time, that meant "major hurricane and flood projects will not be awarded to local engineering firms. Also, a study to determine ways to protect the region from a Category 5 hurricane has been shelved for now."

The commander of the Corps' New Orleans district also immediately instituted a hiring freeze and cancelled the annual Corps picnic.

Our friends at the Center for American Progress note the Office of Technology Assessment used to produce forward-thinking plans such as "Floods: A National Policy Concern" and "A Framework for Flood Hazards Management." Unfortunately, the office was targeted by Newt Gingrich and the Republican right, and gutted years ago.

In fact, there is now a government-wide movement away from basing policy on science, expertise and professionalism, and in favor of choices based on ideology. If you're wondering what the ideological position on flood management might be, look at the pictures of New Orleans -- it seems to consist of gutting the programs that do anything.

Unfortunately, the war in Iraq is directly related to the devastation left by the hurricane. About 35 percent of Louisiana's National Guard is now serving in Iraq, where four out of every 10 soldiers are guardsmen. Recruiting for the Guard is also down significantly because people are afraid of being sent to Iraq if they join, leaving the Guard even more short-handed...

The levees of New Orleans, two of which are now broken and flooding the city, were also victims of Iraq war spending. Walter Maestri, emergency management chief for Jefferson Parish, said on June 8, 2004, "It appears that the money has been moved in the president's budget to handle homeland security and the war in Iraq."

This, friends, is why we need to pay attention to government policies, not political personalities, and to know whereon we vote. It is about our lives."
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9/05/2005 12:24:00 PM

For those of us who do think about who we're voting for and why; this has been very frustrating. I don't know if Molly Ivans' column will change any minds but it needs to be said. Thanks for bringing this column to our attention.    



9/06/2005 09:25:00 AM

I hope it does too...

Thanks Kate    



9/21/2005 08:30:00 AM

I dont think that you can or should be able to blame this natural disaster on OUR
President. He did not and he cannot control what "Mother Nature" does. It's a part of this
whole world not just our country, and yes maybe it did affect us more but thats just part
of life. It irritates me to think that people can blame President Bush in a time such as this
when he needs all of the support he can get. He did cut that funding for the major
Hurricane and Flood projects but even if he had left it in there wouldn't have been enough
time because that was only cut in June. Now, he is paying all that money back to them to
help all of the people in New Orleans and other places that got affected. He is doing the
best he can do and thats all I ask of him, and everything that he is doing I'm standing
behind him 100%. About the War in Iraq being directly related to the devastation is not
true in my opinion. Nothing that is going on over there caused Katrina to hit the places it
did. The guardsmen are over there taking care of business thats needs to be taken care
of. Im proud that President Bush is over there doing what he is doing, otherwise they
would being doing the same thing over and over to us like we werent anything ad we
don't stand for anything. Our President has came accross somethings that no other
president ever had to deal with. We might be in some debt but I rather be in some debt
than having 4,000 people dead and us not doing anything about it. "It's about our lives" is
what Molly Ivians says while she is bashing our President, but she isn't thinking of the
lives of all of the victims of Iraq and the victims of Hurricane Katrina. We are the United
States and in this tragic event we should stay united.    



9/21/2005 08:32:00 AM

I dont think that you can or should be able to blame this natural disaster on OUR
President. He did not and he cannot control what "Mother Nature" does. It's a part of this
whole world not just our country, and yes maybe it did affect us more but thats just part
of life. It irritates me to think that people can blame President Bush in a time such as this
when he needs all of the support he can get. He did cut that funding for the major
Hurricane and Flood projects but even if he had left it in there wouldn't have been enough
time because that was only cut in June. Now, he is paying all that money back to them to
help all of the people in New Orleans and other places that got affected. He is doing the
best he can do and thats all I ask of him, and everything that he is doing I'm standing
behind him 100%. About the War in Iraq being directly related to the devastation is not
true in my opinion. Nothing that is going on over there caused Katrina to hit the places it
did. The guardsmen are over there taking care of business thats needs to be taken care
of. Im proud that President Bush is over there doing what he is doing, otherwise they
would being doing the same thing over and over to us like we werent anything ad we
don't stand for anything. Our President has came accross somethings that no other
president ever had to deal with. We might be in some debt but I rather be in some debt
than having 4,000 people dead and us not doing anything about it. "It's about our lives" is
what Molly Ivians says while she is bashing our President, but she isn't thinking of the
lives of all of the victims of Iraq and the victims of Hurricane Katrina. We are the United
States and in this tragic event we should stay united.    



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