House Majority Leader Tom DeLay yesterday declared an “ongoing victory” in his effort to cut spending, and said “there is simply no fat left to cut in the federal budget.” Here’s a list of vital programs Tom DeLay has marshaled through Congress:
$25,000 to study mariachi music in Nevada
$1.5 million for an Alaskan bus stop with heated sidewalks and electronic signs
$75,000 set aside for the Paper Industry International Hall of Fame in Appleton, Wisconsin
$100,000 for a film festival in Rochester, New York.
$50 million for an indoor rainforest in Iowa.
$18,000 for a smoking booth at a private New Jersey airport.
$200,000 for a peanut festival in Alabama
$200 million to build a bridge from Ketchikan, Alaska to a nearby island with 50 inhabitants.
$1 million for the B.B. King Museum in Indianola
$300,000 to construct the Great Falls Parking Garage in Auburn, Maine
$ 240,000 for potato storage research in Madison, Wisconsin
When asked yesterday if Americans should be worried about our government’s response to a future disaster or terrorist attack, President Bush admitted, “Katrina exposed serious problems in our response capability at all levels of government.”
That’s interesting, considering Bush has spent the past couple years telling Americans how safe and secure his leadership has made the country:
- “Since September the 11th, we’ve followed a clear strategy to defeat the terrorists and protect our people. First, we are defending the homeland. We’ve strengthened our intelligence capabilities; we’ve trained more than 800,000 first responders; we have taken critical steps to protect our cities and borders and infrastructure.” [8/24/05]
- “We’re making progress in defending the homeland.” [8/3/05]
- “Of course, we’re doing everything we can to protect America. I wake up every day thinking about how best to protect America. That’s my job.” [10/1/04]
- “In the United States, where the war begun, we will continue our vital work to protecting American people, by protecting our ports and borders and safeguarding infrastructure, preparing for the worst. I mentioned the first responders. I can’t tell you how pleased I am with the coordination now between the federal government, the state government, and local governments for preparing our homeland.” [1/22/04]
that “tax cut and Social Security plans have survived the Hurricane Katrina crisis and will be revisited this fall.” (CongressDaily PM, sub. req’d)
The International Republican Institute recently released a survey of Iraqi public opinion with data taken early this summer. It received virtually no press coverage — according to Lexis, just a single brief mention in the Washington Times — but the results are fascinating and deserve some attention. A few notable points:
Significant drop in country mood. The poll shows an 18 point decline in the attitudes of Iraqis from April to July. This is surely driven by violence and a lack of progress on the political transition, but also by more mundane (yet important) issues like…
Electricity and basic services. See slide 9. A third of the public picks electricity service as one of their top three concerns personally impacting them. This finding is not surprising given the recent street protests (and in some cases violence) against local governments due to the lack of services this summer. One hundred and twenty degree heat without A/C is a serious hardship.
Scant support for the decentralized, federal structure found in the current draft Iraqi constitution. Except for the Kurdish regions, where 87 percent of the public supports giving significant powers to regional governments, there is minimal support for a decentralized structure — the highest level outside of Kurdistan is in southern Shia provinces, where it only approaches 25 percent. This matches results of earlier studies showing a fear in southern and central Iraq that decentralization would lead to a break up of the country, yet a desire among the Kurds to do more. Too bad the current draft of the constitution doesn’t reflect the will of most ordinary Iraqis on this issue – though it does help out the Kurds.
– Brian Katulis
On Monday, the Washington Post quoted former Reagan chief of staff Ken Duberstein as saying that Bush needed to give an address to the nation, a proposal the White House accepted the next day. Duberstein said, “There needs to be a Bush vision for the future of New Orleans“¦ I think a very presidential speech reporting to the country on progress to date and, more significantly, a vision to the future of New Orleans and the region is something that needs to happen sooner rather than later.” Bush’s “vision” for New Orleans and the Katrina recovery effort is being slowly revealed, and unsurprisingly, it’s a vision that’s steeped in conservative ideologies of old that promise little help to actual victims Hurricane Katrina.
“SEPARATE BUT EQUAL” EDUCATION: The Wall Street Journal reports that Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings will ask Congress to waive a federal law that bans educational segregation for homeless children. The Bush administration is arguing, along with states like Utah and Texas, that providing schooling for evacuees – who, in this case, are likened to homeless children — will be disruptive to public school systems, so they want to have sound legal backing for creating separate educational facilities for the 372,000 schoolchildren displaced by Hurricane Katrina. The State of Mississippi is opposed to waiving the Act because they argue the law helps evacuees enroll in schools without red tape. [WSJ, "Schooling Evacuees Provokes Debate," 9/14/05] Read more
has called on officials to “reconsider” the crescent design of a memorial for 9/11 victims “because of the crescent’s prominent use as a symbol in Islam.” We’re guessing he won’t be protesting the crescent in this design, or this one.
Dick Cheney decided to stay on vacation for 72 hours in the midst of the worst natural disaster in American history.
Most Americans would probably say he came back to the job three days late.
Cheney sees the glass half full — according to U.S. News and World Report:
When asked by a reporter why he did not return from his vacation earlier than last Thursday, three days after the hurricane hit, the vice president replied: “I came back four days early.”