IMPEACH GEORGE BUSH!! Mr. Infomaniac's Repository: 2005-09-11

Mr. Infomaniac's Repository

Friday, September 16, 2005

Sugar for Sugar, Salt For Salt - Go Down In The Flood Gonna Be Your Own Fault

Published on Thursday, September 15, 2005 by the Wiscasset Newspaper (Maine)
Sugar for Sugar, Salt For Salt
Go Down In The Flood Gonna Be Your Own Fault
by Christopher Cooper

This won't take long. And it won't be much fun. But duty and decency demand that we do it.

Sometimes you buy a cantaloupe because it looks good and you have enjoyed some fine ripe cantaloupes in your time, even though a buck and a half for a little melon that went three for a dollar within living memory seems pretty pricey. And you leave it on the kitchen counter for a few days, because it's a little green, but it softens and gets a better color so you slice it open, but it's mushy and rotten and smells like feet and tastes like vomit and you remember other, similar, corporate grocery chain cantaloupe experiences and vow as you heave the mess into the compost not to get fooled again.

Maybe you've bought a car. Reasonable mileage, no rust, convincing salesman who chatted you up about your hobbies, agreed with your prejudices, and made you feel you were a pretty clever guy for choosing this vehicle from his selection. But you couldn't keep it aligned, it ate tires, the brakes, exhaust system and radiator didn't survive the life of the payment book, and when you tried to sell it three years later every seventeen-year-old who looked at it was astute enough to reference the oil blown past the rear main seals as his reason for declining your “Best Offer Over $500 Dollars” prayer.

Some of you lady readers married men whose virtues are now no more apparent to you than they were pre-nuptually to your mothers, friends or even relatives of the groom himself. True, he was a successful inseminator but, sadly, the children look disturbingly like him. Of you, people say, “She could have done so much better.” What were you thinking? What can you do?

Or let's say a whole country was riding a foaming crest of good times, new cars, low interest rates, affordable gas, electronic gadgets and a We're Number One world view that was maybe weak on history, geography and empathy, but sure did by God show the big stick to the heathen foreigners. Such a people might toss a coin in a contest between a dorky, dull Democrat and an insipid dry drunk Texas fratboy Republican whose every and many failures had been rendered moot by family money and connections. They might not be paying much attention.

Then, let's say, some really nasty guys from a country larded up with ugly, corrupt fat cats blew a great big hole in a part of that country. Suppose the new president “rose to the occasion” by starting a war with another country in the same part of the world as the one where the bad guys came from, but which, for political and personal reasons and reasons having very much indeed to do with very valuable mineral resources and very profitable corporations and some other complicated considerations having to do with weapons sales, it was not convenient to invade because those particular rich foreigners were personal friends and business partners of that new chief executive.

And further (stay with me; I know it's a weird trip), imagine that just as it was made startlingly clear that pretty much everything this president had advanced as a reason for that war was a fabrication, a misdirection, a deliberate under- or over-statement (well, hell, yes, I guess just a pile of tremendous lies, really, if we need to use such an ugly word), imagine that he got re-elected despite his manifest incompetence and venality and smugness because the same Democrats who had advanced the very dull, unappealing candidate four years previously selected this time a cipher who ran against his own finest, most decent history and tried to seem more and more like the dull incumbent until, finally, some voters stuck with the dummy they knew, and some voted against the sad-sack they'd come to not respect, and the rigged Republican voting machines in two critical states made up the shortfall.

Now what if the best-studied, most carefully-observed, best-tracked, most predictable-coursed hurricane ever seen, and one of the biggest, wiped out a major coastal city that, had the president in question not been so intent upon “drowning government in a bathtub” and reducing the unwelcome sting of taxation upon the richest people and corporations he knew (outside of his friends in Saudi Arabia, I mean), might have received enough money to fortify its dikes and seawalls in the true spirit of “Homeland Security”, and maybe every old lady trying to board an airplane could have been spared the burden of taking off her shoes. (OK, I know it doesn't cost much to humiliate old ladies, and I know the money saved wouldn't have been diverted to New Orleans, but great craziness must be recognized and ridiculed and, when it is public policy, repudiated, and that's what they pay me to do here.)

You've seen the pictures. Twenty per cent of the residents of New Orleans lacked the resources, the vehicles, the health, the money to evacuate ahead of the storm. Too old, too sick, too poor to save themselves, and mostly, given America's great secret still, all these years after we thought we'd equalized these things, even after the token Scalia wannabe on the Supreme Court and the sad yes-man who abandoned the Secretary of State job after the lies he told finally began to curdle on his lips, mostly black. Poor blacks. Indeed.

You've seen the Superdome, the convention center footage. You've heard the first-person accounts of scores of hurting, hungry homeless (poor, black) persons trying to cross a bridge to dry ground but ordered back by white officials with guns. You've seen the misery, the neglect, the abuse. So has the rest of the world. We're Number One! Say it loud.

Is it time yet? Can we all just admit we made a stupid mistake? We weren't paying attention? We heard what we wanted to hear? We succumbed to slick advertising? The fruit was rotten; the car was a lemon; that bum was just piss-poor husband and father material and your momma was right. Stay the course? What course? Our country, its citizens, its principles have been reduced, abused, worked-over, bled-out, violated and humiliated. Not by terrorists or foreign enemies or tsunamis or tornadoes or an angry god. We have rotted from within.

Blame the Republicans? Nah, they're just “protecting their base.” Like helping like. It is the party of wealth and privilege. Blame the Democrats? Sure, if you can distinguish 'em from the Republicans. It sure ain't the party of FDR any more. Or even Jack Kennedy or Lyndon Johnson or Jimmy Carter. I'll see your Tom DeLay and your Bill Frist and raise you a Joe Biden and a Joe Lieberman. Blame the press for avoiding or killing any story that wasn't a press release from the Pentagon, the White House or the American Association of Yellow Ribbon Manufacturers. Blame our stars. Blame ourselves; we weren't paying attention; we didn't do the work democracy demands.

Do I exaggerate our desperate straits? The man at the top in his own words and by his own actions. Add the smirk and swagger yourself; you've seen it often enough.

First response? Fly over on Air Force One; go play golf. Condi Rice shopped shoe boutiques. Dick Cheney bought a three million dollar vacation home.

While you and I watched the Superdome and convention center fiascoes? Lunch with Al Greenspan. “Hurricane Katrina will represent a temporary setback for the U.S. Economy and the energy sector.”

As WalMart water trucks, Red Cross workers, TV reporters and Canadian Mounted Police forces tended the stricken city while FEMA and the National Guard waited for orders that didn't come? “Brownie, you're doing a heckuva job.”

Days after we'd all heard testimony from the engineers and planners who'd repeatedly sounded the alarm about Category Five storms and Cat. Three levees: “I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees.”

With hundred of thousands homeless, uncounted dead, the poorest among us hit the hardest: “Out of the rubbles of Trent Lott's house -- the guy lost his entire house -- there's going to be fantastic house. I look forward to sitting on the porch.” [Yes, rubbles, plural. I know it sounds stupid, but I got it right off the White House website. He's proud of it, for Christ's sake!]

There's more. You've seen it, heard it, been repulsed by it. But did you get this from his mom, the husband of one bad president, the mother of the worst one yet, a woman who you'll remember said she couldn't find the time to trouble her “beautiful mind” about Iraqi civilians we'd bombed to death by the tens of thousands? Of those who'd lost all they owned, including, in many cases, loved ones, to the flood and were now enjoying the hospitality of Texas shelters: "And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this--this [chuckle] is working very well for them."

Oh, those lucky, lucky homeless, sick people! What happy niggras we have here on our grand plantation. It makes a person feel dirty and disgusted and sick to his stomach. Don't you suppose a couple billion other people all over the world heard that chortle, you bloated, ignorant, overprivileged mother of a moron?

Hey, folks, things have gotten so bad that even the press is beginning to pay attention. Presidential Press Secretary Scott McClellan said at least fourteen times during two press briefings last week that now is not the time to “play the blame game.” I say it's an excellent time, while the dead are still floating on the polluted tides and we are not yet distracted by the World's Series or the run-up to Christmas or another newly-discovered “Axis Of Terror” triumvirate.

Now, for pure, wholesome, refreshing local idiocy we have the Maine Republicans' brilliant plan to make us forget the screwing we're getting from Exxon by canceling the state gasoline tax for a few months and (this is really too perfect for me to have made up) forgiving the sales tax on home heating oil (struggling, low wage, two-job homeowners get ready for this!) for business use.

OK. I'm done. Gotta go wax the yacht and wind my Rolex. Jesus, I wish I could be homeless and eat some donated food in Texas while my wife rots in a drainage canal and my dogs starve to death on the balcony of our ruined home

Chris Cooper writes an editorial page column, Fixtures And Forces And Friends for the Wiscasset [Maine] Newspaper. He lives in Alna, Maine; contact him at

© 2005 Wiscasset Newspaper


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Thursday, September 15, 2005

Who Is Hillary Rodham Clinton?

Hillary Rodham Clinton

As a U.S. Senator for New York and former first lady to President Bill Clinton, Hillary Rodham Clinton has led a successful political career despite numerous scandalous hurdles. Since her political career began while attending Wellesley College, Massachusetts, the list of her political and personal accomplishments reveals her steady climb in politics, often standing in her husband's shadow.

Hillary Diane Rodham was born on October 25, 1947, in a Park Ridge, Illinois, suburb to Dorothy and Hugh Rodham. Hugh, a former Army drill sergeant, provided a disciplined environment in which Hillary earned every possible Girl Scout badge, was involved in the youth group of the local Methodist Church, a member of the National Honor Society, and was a student leader.

Education and beginning of political involvement

Rodham entered Wellesley, a prestigious women’s college, after graduating from high school in 1965 where she began to blend academic achievement with political activism. Rodham was deeply affected by the death of the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968, having met him in 1962. After attending Wellesley in Washington, where her political views became more liberal, the president of the College Republicans switched to the Democratic Party at the urging of Professor Alan Schechter. Valedictorian at the 1969 graduation, Rodham was the first student to deliver the commencement address, during which she stated, “The challenge now is to practice politics as the art of making what appears to be impossible, possible.” Graduating with a degree in political science, her speech won Rodham a standing ovation and a feature article in Life magazine.

After entering Yale Law School in 1969, Rodham served on the board of editors of the Yale Review of Law and Social Action and provided legal advice for underprivileged and abused children at Yale-New Haven Hospital. She also interned with children’s advocate Marian Wright Edelman, received a grant to work at the Children’s Defense Fund in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1970; and worked for Senator Walter Mondale’s subcommittee on migrant workers during the summer of 1971. During her second year in law school, Rodham volunteered at the Yale Child Study Center, where she studied new research on early childhood brain development. She also worked at the city legal services providing free assistance to poor residents. It was at Yale’s library that she met her future husband, Bill Clinton. Clinton recalls the occasion they met in which she hastily approached his desk and said, “If you’re going to keep staring at me, I might as well introduce myself.”

After graduating from Yale in 1973, Rodham began a year of post-graduate study on children and medicine at the Yale Child Study Center, after having written her widely acknowledged thesis on children’s rights. She also became a staff attorney for the Children’s Defense Fund and was recruited to serve on the presidential impeachment inquiry staff for the House of Representative’s Judiciary Committee, investigating the Watergate Scandal. Rodham moved to Fayetteville, Arkansas, after President Richard M. Nixon resigned in August 1974. She joined boyfriend and colleague Bill on the University of Arkansas Law School faculty. She married Clinton in 1975, retained her maiden name, and bore their only child, Chelsea Victoria Clinton, on February 27, 1980.

Kept out of the public eye during her teenage years, Chelsea attended an elite private school and then graduated from Stanford University with a degree in history. At the age of nearly 21, she unofficially acted as first lady when Rodham Clinton ran for the U.S. Senate. The Clintons' daughter earned a master’s degree in International Relations at Oxford University, and in 2003, joined a consulting firm in New York City.

In Arkansas, the elder Clintons' careers began to ascend, and soon the couple moved to Little Rock. Bill ran unsuccessfully for a seat in the U.S. House. Rodham Clinton joined the Rose Law Firm in 1976. Two years later, Rodham Clinton was appointed to the board of the Legal Services Corporation by President Jimmy Carter, and Clinton was elected to the governor's office.

First lady of Arkansas

During Rodham Clinton’s 12 years as first lady of Arkansas, she continued to pursue children and family issues. She chaired the Arkansas Education Standards Committee to improve the testing standards of new teachers, founded the Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families, and introduced Arkansas Home Instruction for Preschool Youth, a program that trained parents of preschool children in preparedness and literacy. The first lady also served on the Arkansas Children’s Hospital Legal Services board, Children’s Defense Fund board, while continuing to work for the Rose Law Firm. She was named one of the 100 most influential attorneys in America by the National Law Journal in 1988 and 1991. She was also named Arkansas Woman of the Year in 1983 and Arkansas Mother of the Year in 1984.

Rodham Clinton was wrongly accused of a conflict of interest when it was revealed in 1979 that a $1,000 investment in cattle futures had generated a $100,000 return when she ceased trading 10 months later. Records from the Chicago Mercantile Exchange indicated that $40,000 of the profit came from larger trades through experienced trader James Blair, outside counsel to Tyson Foods. Commodities broker Robert L. “Red” Bone had aided the trades for the Ray E. Friedman and Co. (Refco). Because of Blair’s standing as a good client, Clinton was allowed to maintain her positions, even though her account did not cover the activity. Refco was later fined for its illegal dealings with the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and for breaking margin trading laws. It was concluded, however, that Rodham Clinton had not violated trading rules.

Hillary Rodham Clinton watches husband, Bill being sworn in as president

At the time, Rodham Clinton was criticized for maintaining her maiden name upon marrying, having done so to avoid conflicts of interest and to keep their professional lives separate. Bill Clinton’s advisors had speculated it was a contributing cause of his failure to retain the governorship in 1980. In Hillary’s autobiography, Living History, she said, “I learned the hard way that some voters in Arkansas were seriously offended by the fact that I kept my maiden name.” During the winter of 1980, she began to use Clinton as her surname, at Vernon Jordan's suggestion. When Bill announced his campaign to regain the governor's office in 1982, she adopted the name Hillary Rodham Clinton and sometimes referred to herself as “Mrs. Bill Clinton.” Hillary Rodham Clinton’s name was fully established by the time she became first lady of the United States, and she has continued to use that name.

First lady of the White House

When the Clintons moved into the White House in 1993, the president appointed his wife to head the Task Force on National Health Care Reform that proposed a national health plan. The controversial plan failed to receive enough support to reach the floors of Congress and was abandoned in September 1994. Rodham Clinton attributed her political inexperience as a contributor to its defeat, as well as other factors.

Not since Eleanor Roosevelt had a first lady so actively participated in public policy. Unaccustomed to the first lady’s central role in the shaping of public policy, such involvement was thought inappropriate by critics. Supporters considered her role as the same as other White House advisors and contended that voters had been aware that Hillary would play an active role in the Clinton administration prior to voting him into office.

During her eight years as first lady, Rodham Clinton also initiated the Children’s Health Insurance Program in 1997, increased research funding for prostate cancer and childhood asthma to the National Institute of Health, as well as assisted in determining the cause of a mysterious illness affecting veterans of the Gulf War. She also initiated and guided the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997.

Hillary Rodham Clinton and C. Everett Koop

Rodham Clinton has received many prestigious awards, including the Secretary of Defense Medal for Outstanding Public Service, the President’s Award of the League of United Latin American Citizens, Role Model of the Year, by the United Steel Workers of America; the Martin Luther King Jr. Award from the Progressive National Baptist Convention, and the National Association of Elementary School Principals Distinguished Service Award. Rodham Clinton also has authored best-selling books, including her autobiography, Living History and It Takes a Village: And Other Lessons Children Teach Us, which won her the 1997 Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word Album for the recorded version.

Years wrought with controversy

The Clintons have weathered more than a few controversies. Among the most controversial and difficult occurred when Clinton’s fidelity to Hillary was challenged. After it was revealed during the 1992 election campaign that Clinton had kept “a relationship that I should not have had” with Arkansas lounge singer Gennifer Flowers, rumors of extramarital affairs gained currency. In 1995, he reluctantly revealed his affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky, which was later substantiated by an investigation. Despite that tumultuous and painful time in her marriage, Rodham Clinton did not seek a divorce — and was both criticized and praised for it.

Election to the U.S. Senate

Amidst much controversy over his infidelity and other political scandals, Clinton finished his second term as president and Hillary was elected a U.S. Senator for New York State. During the campaign, her opponent and other critics accused her of opportunism, given her tenuous connection with the state. Considered to be a proponent of American liberalism, with its origins found in Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal policies, the former first lady was elected on November 7, 2000. According to a New York Times article entitled “The Evolution of Hillary Clinton,” she has been successful in finding the middle ground between voters of various views on such issues as abortion rights, where her work has focused on reducing the number of abortions through the prevention of unwanted pregnancies rather than restricting abortions.

Since becoming a senator, Rodham Clinton has worked to strengthen New York’s economy and homeland security, while supporting a return to fiscal responsibility. She worked to bring economic relief to victims of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. The senator introduced legislation to provide funding for threat-based homeland security to ensure adequate resources for first responders, and such high-target communities as New York City.

Hillary Rodham Clinton receives Secretary of Defense Medal

She serves on various senatorial committees, including the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee; Environment and Public Works Committee; Special Committee on Aging; and in 2004 was the only senator on the Transformation Advisory Group to the Joint Forces Command. She has visited troops in Iraq, Afghanistan and other locations, to learn about the challenges American combat forces face. She also has worked for prescription-drug safety for children, to lower the cost of prescription drugs, and to prevent contamination of the American food supply by bioterrorism. She co-sponsored legislation to extend tax credits in regions that contain designated Renewal Communities, as well as introduced legislation to increase access to broadband technology in rural areas.

The future for Hillary Rodham Clinton

In November 2004, Rodham Clinton announced she would seek a second term in the Senate. Also, she has been considered by some to be a potential candidate for the presidency in 2008. Through her numerous accomplishments in the world of politics and public service, Hillary Rodham Clinton has made an indelible mark on American society and on progressivism.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Senate Kills Bid for Katrina Commission

Senate Kills Bid for Katrina Commission

WASHINGTON (AP) - Senate Republicans on Wednesday scuttled an attempt by Sen. Hillary Clinton to establish an independent, bipartisan panel patterned after the 9/11 Commission to investigate what went wrong with federal, state and local governments' response to Hurricane Katrina.

The New York Democrat's bid to establish the panel - which would have also made recommendations on how to improve the government's disaster response apparatus - failed to win the two-thirds majority needed to overcome procedural hurdles. Clinton got only 44 votes, all from Democrats and independent Sen. Jim Jeffords of Vermont. Fifty-four Republicans all voted no.


To establish a congressional commission to examine the Federal, State, and local response to the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina in the Gulf Region of the United States especially... (Introduced in Senate)

S 1622 IS

1st Session

S. 1622

To establish a congressional commission to examine the Federal, State, and local response to the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina in the Gulf Region of the United States especially in the States of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and other areas impacted in the aftermath and make immediate corrective measures to improve such responses in the future.


September 7, 2005

Mrs. CLINTON (for herself, Ms. MIKULSKI, Mr. HARKIN, Mr. LAUTENBERG, Mr. JEFFORDS, Mr. REED, Mr. SALAZAR, Mr. OBAMA, and Mrs. BOXER) introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs


To establish a congressional commission to examine the Federal, State, and local response to the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina in the Gulf Region of the United States especially in the States of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and other areas impacted in the aftermath and make immediate corrective measures to improve such responses in the future.

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,


    There is established in the legislative branch the Katrina Commission (in this Act referred to as the `Commission').


    (a) Members- The Commission shall be composed of 10 members, of whom--
      (1) 1 member shall be appointed by the President, who shall serve as chairman of the Commission;
      (2) 1 member shall be appointed by the leader of the Senate (majority or minority leader, as the case may be) of the Democratic Party, in consultation with the leader of the House of Representatives (majority or minority leader, as the case may be) of the Democratic Party, who shall serve as vice chairman of the Commission;
      (3) 2 members shall be appointed by the senior member of the Senate leadership of the Democratic Party;
      (4) 2 members shall be appointed by the senior member of the leadership of the House of Representatives of the Republican Party;
      (5) 2 members shall be appointed by the senior member of the Senate leadership of the Republican Party; and
      (6) 2 members shall be appointed by the senior member of the leadership of the House of Representatives of the Democratic Party.
    (b) Qualifications; Initial Meeting-
      (1) POLITICAL PARTY AFFILIATION- Not more than 5 members of the Commission shall be from the same political party.
      (2) NONGOVERNMENTAL APPOINTEES- An individual appointed to the Commission may not be an officer or employee of the Federal Government or any State or local government.
      (3) OTHER QUALIFICATIONS- It is the sense of Congress that individuals appointed to the Commission should be prominent United States citizens who represent a diverse range of citizens and enjoy national recognition and significant depth of experience in such professions as governmental service, emergency preparedness, mitigation planning, cataclysmic planning and response, intergovernmental management, resource planning, recovery operations and planning, Federal coordination, military coordination, and other extensive natural disaster and emergency response experience.
      (4) DEADLINE FOR APPOINTMENT- All members of the Commission shall be appointed on or before October 1, 2005.
      (5) INITIAL MEETING- The Commission shall meet and begin the operations of the Commission as soon as practicable.
    (c) Quorum; Vacancies- After its initial meeting, the Commission shall meet upon the call of the chairman or a majority of its members. Six members of the Commission shall constitute a quorum. Any vacancy in the Commission shall not affect its powers, but shall be filled in the same manner in which the original appointment was made.


    The duties of the Commission are to--
      (1) examine and report upon the Federal, State, and local response to the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina in the Gulf Region of the United States of America especially in the States of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and other areas impacted in the aftermath;
      (2) ascertain, evaluate, and report on the information developed by all relevant governmental agencies regarding the facts and circumstances related to Hurricane Katrina prior to striking the United States and in the days and weeks following;
      (3) build upon concurrent and prior investigations of other entities, and avoid unnecessary duplication concerning information related to existing vulnerabilities;
      (4) make a full and complete accounting of the circumstances surrounding the approach of Hurricane Katrina to the Gulf States, and the extent of the United States government's preparedness for, and response to, the hurricane;
      (5) planning necessary for future cataclysmic events requiring a significant marshaling of Federal resources, mitigation, response, and recovery to avoid significant loss of life;
      (6) an analysis as to whether any decisions differed with respect to response and recovery for different communities, neighborhoods, parishes, and locations and what problems occurred as a result of a lack of a common plan, communication structure, and centralized command structure; and
      (7) investigate and report to the President and Congress on its findings, conclusions, and recommendations for immediate corrective measures that can be taken to prevent problems with Federal response that occurred in the preparation for, and in the aftermath of, Hurricane Katrina so that future cataclysmic events are responded to adequately.


    (a) In General- The functions of the Commission are to--
      (1) conduct an investigation that--
        (A) investigates relevant facts and circumstances relating to the catastrophic impacts that Hurricane Katrina exacted upon the Gulf Region of the United States especially in New Orleans and surrounding parishes, and impacted areas of Mississippi and Alabama; and
        (B) shall include relevant facts and circumstances relating to--
          (i) Federal emergency response planning and execution at the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Department of Homeland Security, the White House, and all other Federal entities with responsibility for assisting during, and responding to, natural disasters;
          (ii) military and law enforcement response planning and execution;
          (iii) Federal mitigation plans, programs, and policies including prior assessments of existing vulnerabilities and exercises designed to test those vulnerabilities;
          (iv) Federal, State, and local communication interoperability successes and failures;
          (v) past, present, and future Federal budgetary provisions for preparedness, mitigation, response, and recovery;
          (vi) the Federal Emergency Management Agency's response capabilities as an independent agency and as part of the Department of Homeland Security;
          (vii) the role of congressional oversight and resource allocation;
          (viii) other areas of the public and private sectors determined relevant by the Commission for its inquiry; and
          (ix) long-term needs for people impacted by Hurricane Katrina and other forms of Federal assistance necessary for large-scale recovery;
      (2) identify, review, and evaluate the lessons learned from Hurricane Katrina including coordination, management policies, and procedures of the Federal Government, State and local governments, and nongovernmental entities, relative to detection, planning, mitigation, asset prepositioning, and responding to cataclysmic natural disasters such as Hurricane Katrina ; and
      (3) submit to the President and Congress such reports as are required by this Act containing such findings, conclusions, and recommendations as the Commission shall determine, including proposing organization, coordination, planning, management arrangements, procedures, rules, and regulations.


    (a) In General-
      (1) HEARINGS AND EVIDENCE- The Commission or, on the authority of the Commission, any subcommittee or member thereof, may, for the purpose of carrying out this Act--
        (A) hold such hearings and sit and act at such times and places, take such testimony, receive such evidence, administer such oaths; and
        (B) subject to paragraph (2)(A), require, by subpoena or otherwise, the attendance and testimony of such witnesses and the production of such books, records, correspondence, memoranda, papers, and documents, as the Commission or such designated subcommittee or designated member may determine advisable.
      (2) SUBPOENAS-
        (A) ISSUANCE-
          (i) IN GENERAL- A subpoena may be issued under this subsection only--
            (I) by the agreement of the chairman and the vice chairman; or
            (II) by the affirmative vote of 6 members of the Commission.
          (ii) SIGNATURE- Subject to clause (i), subpoenas issued under this subsection may be issued under the signature of the chairman or any member designated by a majority of the Commission, and may be served by any person designated by the chairman or by a member designated by a majority of the Commission.
        (B) ENFORCEMENT-
          (i) IN GENERAL- In the case of contumacy or failure to obey a subpoena issued under subsection (a), the United States district court for the judicial district in which the subpoenaed person resides, is served, or may be found, or where the subpoena is returnable, may issue an order requiring such person to appear at any designated place to testify or to produce documentary or other evidence. Any failure to obey the order of the court may be punished by the court as a contempt of that court.
          (ii) ADDITIONAL ENFORCEMENT- In the case of any failure of any witness to comply with any subpoena or to testify when summoned under authority of this section, the Commission may, by majority vote, certify a statement of fact constituting such failure to the appropriate United States attorney, who may bring the matter before the grand jury for its action, under the same statutory authority and procedures as if the United States attorney had received a certification under sections 102 through 104 of the Revised Statutes of the United States (2 U.S.C. 192 through 194).
    (b) Contracting- The Commission may, to such extent and in such amounts as are provided in appropriation Acts, enter into contracts to enable the Commission to discharge its duties under this Act.
    (c) Information From Federal Agencies-
      (1) IN GENERAL- The Commission is authorized to secure directly from any executive department, bureau, agency, board, commission, office, independent establishment, or instrumentality of the Government, information, suggestions, estimates, and statistics for the purposes of this Act. Each department, bureau, agency, board, commission, office, independent establishment, or instrumentality shall, to the extent authorized by law, furnish such information, suggestions, estimates, and statistics directly to the Commission, upon request made by the chairman, the chairman of any subcommittee created by a majority of the Commission, or any member designated by a majority of the Commission.
      (2) RECEIPT, HANDLING, STORAGE, AND DISSEMINATION- Information shall only be received, handled, stored, and disseminated by members of the Commission and its staff consistent with all applicable statutes, regulations, and Executive orders.
    (d) Assistance From Federal Agencies-
      (1) GENERAL SERVICES ADMINISTRATION- The Administrator of General Services shall provide to the Commission on a reimbursable basis administrative support and other services for the performance of the Commission's functions.
      (2) OTHER DEPARTMENTS AND AGENCIES- In addition to the assistance prescribed in paragraph (1), departments and agencies of the United States may provide to the Commission such services, funds, facilities, staff, and other support services as they may determine advisable and as may be authorized by law.
    (e) Gifts- The Commission may accept, use, and dispose of gifts or donations of services or property.
    (f) Postal Services- The Commission may use the United States mails in the same manner and under the same conditions as departments and agencies of the United States.


    (a) In General- The Federal Advisory Committee Act (5 U.S.C. App.) shall not apply to the Commission.
    (b) Public Meetings and Release of Public Versions of Reports- The Commission shall--
      (1) hold public hearings and meetings to the extent appropriate; and
      (2) release public versions of the reports required under section 10.
    (c) Public Hearings- Any public hearings of the Commission shall be conducted in a manner consistent with the protection of information provided to or developed for or by the Commission as required by any applicable statute, regulation, or Executive order.


    (a) In General-
      (1) APPOINTMENT AND COMPENSATION- The chairman, in consultation with the vice chairman, in accordance with rules agreed upon by the Commission, may appoint and fix the compensation of a staff director and such other personnel as may be necessary to enable the Commission to carry out its functions, without regard to the provisions of title 5, United States Code, governing appointments in the competitive service, and without regard to the provisions of chapter 51 and subchapter III of chapter 53 of such title relating to classification and General Schedule pay rates, except that no rate of pay fixed under this subsection may exceed the equivalent of that payable for a position at level V of the Executive Schedule under section 5316 of title 5, United States Code.
        (A) IN GENERAL- The executive director and any personnel of the Commission who are employees shall be employees under section 2105 of title 5, United States Code, for purposes of chapters 63, 81, 83, 84, 85, 87, 89, and 90 of that title.
        (B) MEMBERS OF COMMISSION- Subparagraph (A) shall not be construed to apply to members of the Commission.
    (b) Detailees- Any Federal Government employee may be detailed to the Commission without reimbursement from the Commission, and such detailee shall retain the rights, status, and privileges of his or her regular employment without interruption.
    (c) Consultant Services- The Commission is authorized to procure the services of experts and consultants in accordance with section 3109 of title 5, United States Code, but at rates not to exceed the daily rate paid a person occupying a position at level IV of the Executive Schedule under section 5315 of title 5, United States Code.


    (a) Compensation- Each member of the Commission may be compensated at not to exceed the daily equivalent of the annual rate of basic pay in effect for a position at level IV of the Executive Schedule under section 5315 of title 5, United States Code, for each day during which that member is engaged in the actual performance of the duties of the Commission.
    (b) Travel Expenses- While away from their homes or regular places of business in the performance of services for the Commission, members of the Commission shall be allowed travel expenses, including per diem in lieu of subsistence, in the same manner as persons employed intermittently in the Government service are allowed expenses under section 5703(b) of title 5, United States Code.


    The appropriate Federal agencies or departments shall cooperate with the Commission in expeditiously providing to the Commission members and staff appropriate security clearances to the extent possible pursuant to existing procedures and requirements, except that no person shall be provided with access to classified information under this Act without the appropriate security clearances.


    (a) Interim Reports- The Commission may submit to the President and Congress interim reports containing such findings, conclusions, and recommendations for corrective measures as have been agreed to by a majority of Commission members.
    (b) Final Report- Not later than 6 months after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Commission shall submit to the President and Congress a final report containing such findings, conclusions, and recommendations for corrective measures as have been agreed to by a majority of Commission members.
    (c) Termination-
      (1) IN GENERAL- The Commission, and all the authorities of this Act, shall terminate 60 days after the date on which the final report is submitted under subsection (b).
      (2) ADMINISTRATIVE ACTIVITIES BEFORE TERMINATION- The Commission may use the 60-day period referred to in paragraph (1) for the purpose of concluding its activities, including providing testimony to committees of Congress concerning its reports and disseminating the final report.


    (a) Emergency Appropriation of Funds- There are authorized to be appropriated $3,000,000 for purposes of the activities of the Commission under this Act and such funding is designated as emergency spending under section 402 of H. Con. Res. 95 (109th Congress).
    (b) Duration of Availability- Amounts made available to the Commission under subsection (a) shall remain available until the termination of the Commission.

Monday, September 12, 2005

THE TREMENDOUS CHALLENGES THAT FACE OUR COUNTRY -- (House of Representatives - September 08, 2005)

THE TREMENDOUS CHALLENGES THAT FACE OUR COUNTRY -- (House of Representatives - September 08, 2005)
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The SPEAKER pro tempore (Miss McMorris). Under the Speaker's announced policy of January 4, 2005, the gentlewoman from Georgia (Ms. McKinney) is recognized for 60 minutes as the designee of the minority leader.

Ms. McKINNEY. Madam Speaker, I have got a lot of papers and a lot of posters. One hour will in no way accommodate all that needs to be said tonight about the tremendous challenges that face our country today, including how we conduct ourselves in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

While my remarks tonight in no way should be construed as encompassing all of my thoughts on the very important issues that I discuss tonight, just mark this down as a start.

First, let me say that I am especially proud of the way the people of my district and of this country have wrapped their arms around the victims of Hurricane Katrina. At this time, we have a healthy contingent of expert Georgians in the traumatized gulf States, and we have received thousands of Katrina's victims into our cities, churches, and homes.

I have come to this floor on many occasions. People around the world have commented on how shocked they are to see such poverty in America. While cities and localities pass anti-panhandling measures that criminalize begging tourists and visitors in downtown areas asking for help, Hurricane Katrina washed away America's veneer of populist opportunity, a country that has overcome its racist, slave-holding past, a country ready for world dominion because it has learned how to uplift the human spirit at home.

Katrina, in images as stark and undeniable as could be, has laid bare the Republican lie that its policies promote growth and prosperity for all Americans and leave no child behind, while Katrina put into our living rooms and the world's living rooms the cruel hoax that has been played on America and those who love America by the ruthless sybaritic power player elites who are as responsible for the conditions endured by too many Americans as they are for the embarrassing and breathtaking incompetencies we all witnessed just before Labor Day.

Almost 30,000 New Orleans households live on less than $10,000 per year. More babies and young kids are going hungry in our country. Eleven percent of our families experienced hunger in 2003. One million more Americans are living in poverty today than there were 1 year ago. Income distribution has become obscenely skewed toward the rich during the Bush years. In Manhattan, the poor make two cents for each dollar that the rich make. This places Manhattan on par with Namibia for income disparity.

Interestingly, in the financial capital of the world, New York City, the Bronx is the poorest urban county in the country, and New York State is being depleted of its middle class.

America is being depleted of its middle class. Over 50 percent of America's income goes to the top 20 percent of households. With even more tax cuts for the wealthy on the horizon, coupled with real budget cuts for the programs that are forced to take care of more and more Americans, the situation can only be expected to get worse, sadly.

Incomes for 95 percent of American households are flat or falling. Only the top 5 percent are experiencing the growth that we hear the Republicans talk about.

Now, I have got tons of documentation to offer for all of the statistics that we cite, but let me take a moment and reiterate where we are for all the people who are listening tonight.

[Time: 18:15]

Let me recall for just a moment the America they might not know but that more of us are coming all too well to know.

I will start with this poster, which depicts a black man hanging from a tree. The caption says ``The body of Robert McNair is seen here as residents and schoolchildren in the Georgetown community saw it between about 7 a.m. and 9 a.m. last Thursday.'' This was on the front page of the Jackson, Mississippi, Advocate the week of October 23 to 29 when I was in Mississippi for a speaking engagement. This was what I saw.

Sadly, it is what the children in the neighborhood saw, a black man hanging from a tree. A lynching. That is 2003. I am not talking about 1903. This is 2003. Sadly, in 2005, we have two lynchings being investigated in the State of Georgia, my home State, and both of them are supposed to have been suicides. In this story it was reported that this poor Mr. Robert McNair committed suicide, hanging from a tree.

When I come to the floor and do these monthly talks, some way or other we get around to the state of black America because it is important for us to understand that there are many Americans, and some of those Americans we do not see and we do not know. But we need to know how all Americans live so that we can make sure that no American is left behind.

On some indices, even today, it is true that the racial disparities are worse today than they were at the time of the murder of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. People would say it is not true, but, alas, it is true. And, of course, the statistics document that sad truth. United for a Fair Economy gives us these statistics in its State of the Dream report on imprisonment. To close the racial gap, it will take 190 years just so that black people are imprisoned for the same crime at the same rate as white people are imprisoned.

What about poverty? We saw a lot of that. Overall poverty, the racial disparity, 150 years to close the gap. Why does that have to be? At the slow rate that the black-white poverty gap has been narrowing since 1968, it would take 150 years to close the gap.

What about child poverty? Two hundred ten years to close the gap. Almost one-third of black children live in poverty. The child poverty gap would take 210 years to disappear, not reaching parity until 2212.

I would like to thank the National Council for La Raza that provided us with these statistics, the proportion of children without health insurance in the United States, home ownership rates. Look and you can see the proportion of children without health insurance in the United States. Look at the Hispanic figures. Look at that. Twenty-five percent of young Latino children do not have health insurance in this country.

What about home ownership rates, because we hear a lot of talk about the growth economy, and the Republicans and the President talk about promoting home ownership, home ownership, the first tier toward building wealth, okay? Well, if you are lucky enough to be able to own a home, sadly black and Hispanic home ownership rates are low. How low? To close the home ownership gap, the disparity between white home ownership and black home ownership, the first tier toward

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wealth building, it will take 1,664 years to close the home ownership gap.

This is something that so many Americans take for granted. Yet so many Americans still have a dream for home ownership.

Now, what about income? It will take 581 years for us to close the per capita income gap. Since 1968, we have only been able to close the gap 2 cents. Black people make 55 cents for every dollar. That was in 1968. In 2001, it was 57 cents. Two cents, so 581 years to close the gap.

When some people start talking about how we want to build, rebuild, and provide for folks, that is what this Congress is supposed to do. We should build lives, we should build communities, build neighborhoods, and protect our people.

When it comes to the economic conditions that are prevailing for so many Americans, it is almost a joke. Here is a cartoon from the Washington Post. This is the sybaritic power player who is pulling the strings behind the scene, calling the shots, dictating politics and policy; and he is saying, ``It is not trickle down economics. We got the plumbing fixed.'' Here is the poor little fella down here, little panhandler trying to wait to get some of the stuff that is trickling down, and it is not trickling down any more.

Poverty is up. Median income down. That is the result of the policies of the Bush administration since 2001.

What about all these tax cuts? New Orleans has got a lot of attention now because of what has happened, and we hear and we will hear some of our colleagues on the other side of the aisle suggesting that we need to do more tax cuts. Well, the faces of the people that came into our living rooms from Hurricane Katrina got this much from George Bush's tax cuts. But if you happened to make over $200,000 a year, you got this much from George Bush's tax cuts.

It is so clear that the administration wants to serve some of the people all of the time and fool the rest of us all of the time. The tax cuts, we should not hear another word uttered about the need for more of the kind of tax cuts that the Bush administration has given us thus far. This insensitive policymaking that ends up hurting real people leads to a kind of callousness within our society that we do not recognize sometimes, that we do not notice sometimes.

It is easy to pass an anti-panhandling ordinance in the city of Atlanta because we do not feel the pain of the people who do not eat at night. So it is also easy to demonize people. It is easy to demonize people that you do not know.

This made it around the Internet until Agence France-Presse pulled their photo off. But how is it that we can have a media in this country displaying one young man wading through that putrid water and the American press, the Associated Press, says that he is ``looting.'' Then you have two people who are obviously not black and they are ``finding.'' This young man, according to the Associated Press, walks through chest-deep floodwater after ``looting'' a grocery store. Two residents wade through chest-deep water after ``finding'' bread and soda.

This is the America of those statistics. This is the America that all Americans need to know and see. This is the America that too many of us have borne the brunt of generation after generation after generation after generation.

And then, they called them ``refugees.'' Some bright light in the media came up with that one to further dehumanize poor black people in New Orleans. I had some New Orleans residents in my congressional office in Georgia who said that they had never, ever thought that they would be called refugees in their own country. Other insensitive language just shows how totally out of touch the leadership of this country is with the American people.

[Time: 18:30]

While the city was still flooding, Speaker Hastert suggested that New Orleans should not be rebuilt.

As the mostly black people were herded into what looked like concentration camps, Barbara Bush suggested that they were really better off now than they were before. Well, maybe she has got something there, because it took losing an entire city for the ``compassionate conservatives'' in Washington, D.C., to finally get some compassion in the laws they pass, in the policies they enact, in what they do around here.

And you can imagine my surprise to hear the very people who chose not to adequately fund education, health care, affordable housing, now saying we have got to have Pell grants, Section 8 vouchers, schooling for children. It is what some of us have been saying all along.

Now, you can just about bet your bottom dollar that the Karl Rove spin machine is working overtime to whitewash the Bush administration preparations for the response to Katrina. Let us remember as we go through this that the State and local responders were victims too. That is why it is critical that the feds act. But they did not act, notwithstanding anything that comes out of the spin machine.

Kathleen Blanco, the governor of Louisiana said, ``We wanted soldiers, helicopters, food and water. They wanted to negotiate an organizational chart.'' This is from the New York Times. ``Far from deferring to State or local officials, FEMA asserted its authority and made things worse,'' according to Mr. Broussard, and I will talk about him a little bit later, who complained on Meet the Press.

Mayor Nagin said, ``The root of the breakdown was the failure of the Federal Government to deliver relief supplies and personnel quickly. They kept promising and saying things would happen. I was getting excited and telling people that. They kept making promises and promises.''

MSNBC informs us that FEMA Director Michael Brown waited 5 hours after the storm's landfall to get agency assistance, to get agency aid from the Department of Homeland Security.

Now, another thing that we need to know about, there are so many things that our government does in our name with our tax dollars, on our behalf supposedly, that we do not know about. The Bush administration has opened up these biodefense labs all over the country. In about 20, 25 universities around the country we have got biodefense labs studying I do not know what.

I can remember the Tuskegee Study. I remember MK-Ultra as an African American. I remember Paul Robeson. But Tulane University is under water, and Tulane University houses one of these biodefense labs. We need to know what the heck was in that lab, what was going on in that biodefense lab.

Some of the headlines. Notwithstanding what you may hear from the other side of the aisle or coming out of the White House about how everyone has to share the blame, these are some of the headlines.

``FEMA won't accept Amtrak's help in evacuations.''

``FEMA turns away experienced firefighters.''

``FEMA turns back Wal-Mart supply trucks.''

``FEMA prevents Coast Guard from delivering diesel fuel.''

``Homeland Security won't let Red Cross deliver food.''

``FEMA bars morticians from entering New Orleans.''

``FEMA blocks 500-boat citizen flotilla from delivering aid.''

``FEMA fails to utilize Navy ship with 600-bed hospital on board.''

``FEMA to Chicago: Send just one truck.''

``FEMA turns away generators.''

``FEMA first responders urged not to respond.''

Those are just a few of the headlines. I have got all of the documentation, of course.

There is also a story about three U.S. Customs Blackhawk helicopter crews that are absolutely livid because they had been directed not to provide full-time support for the hurricane relief effort in the Gulf.

``Navy ship nearby underused.'' This is from the Chicago Tribune. A craft with food, water, doctors. All it needed was the orders. It never got the orders.

``Federal agency slow to accept business help.'' This is from the Financial Times, ``Federal agency slow to accept business help. From Wal-Mart's satellite-based communications system to FedEx's aircraft, U.S. business has in some cases managed to provide a swifter response to the initial impacts of Hurricane Katrina than the Federal and State authorities.''

This is from the Salt Lake City Tribune: ``Frustrated fire crews to hand out

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fliers for FEMA. Many of the firefighters assembled from Utah and throughout the United States by FEMA thought they were going to be deployed as emergency workers. Instead, they have learned they are going to be community relations officers for FEMA, shuffling throughout the gulf coast region to disseminate fliers and a phone number, 1-800-621-FEMA,'' which does not work most of the time.

Now, I know that American children can do better in geography, but you would think that at least our emergency management people would get their geography right. says, Well, they were supposed to go to Charleston. My colleague from Charleston, we were in a meeting on Tuesday night, and he said they had the shelter all set up with supplies, cots, blankets and everything, and nobody came. Now we find out that this is why they did not come. They were supposed to be in Charleston, South Carolina. Guess where FEMA took them? Charleston, West Virginia. What incompetence. Right city, wrong State.

I cannot even imagine. No one should imagine. It is ridiculous. But they are going to tell you everything is all right.

The New York Times tells us, ``Navy pilots who rescued victims are reprimanded.'' What? ``Two Navy helicopter pilots and their crews returned from New Orleans on August 30 expecting to be greeted as lifesavers after ferrying more than 100 victims to safety. Instead, they were reprimanded.''

Well, we are working on this, since I serve on the Committee on Armed Services. But the sad thing about it is, when we had our briefing on Tuesday evening, the Secretary of Defense, Secretary of Homeland Security, Secretary of Labor, Secretary of Treasury, Secretary of HUD were all there at the briefing, except that Defense kept going in and out, Homeland Security kept going in and out, could not stay long enough to brief the Members of Congress or to hear from the Members of Congress who are directly impacted by their failure, their incompetence.

Malik Rahin is a former Black Panther Party member. In a very compelling radio interview he said, ``You want more morality from the poor than from the rich.'' But he rejected the idea that New Orleans was a city divided by race. He said, ``Whites took their boats and went into black neighborhoods. But it was the feds who forced people to leave their possessions. Once they got rescued, they had to leave their possessions. They could only take one bag.''

He says, ``Over 70 percent of the people who were rescued were rescued by individuals.'' Then he went on to say something very interesting. He said, ``$90 million of HOPE VI construction, but the people who needed it the most in New Orleans got no training, no community service.''

Louisiana has the highest dropout rate in the country. He said, ``Juvenile justice is a disgrace.'' He said, ``The only equal opportunity employer here is drugs.''

We heard a lot about shooting. He says, ``White vigilante groups with shotguns and rifles rode around saying they were going to shoot the looters.'' They were unchecked. There could have been a riot. He says, ``There was about to be a race riot.''

He said, ``Many whites took their own personal boats into the black community. Too many acts of heroism, sharing ice, sharing water.''

Then he mentions Jefferson Parish had to secede from the United States of America. So I want to mention the Jefferson Parish president.

But before that I am going to mention what Mayor Nagin in a wonderfully compelling interview with WWL said when he had the opportunity to speak directly with President Bush. He said, ``I told him we had an incredible crisis here and that his flying over in Air Force One does not do it justice, and that I have been all around this city, and I am very frustrated because we are not able to marshal resources and we are outmanned in just about every respect.''

But in perhaps the most compelling of all of the interviews that we have seen, and these are all available on the Internet, is Aaron Broussard, president of Jefferson Parish, on Meet the Press. He said, ``Sir, they were told, like me, every single day the cavalry is coming on the Federal level, the cavalry is coming, the cavalry is coming, the cavalry is coming. I have just begun to hear the hooves of the cavalry. The cavalry is still not out here yet, but I have begun to hear the hooves, and we are almost a week out.''

Then he gives three quick examples, one of the Wal-Mart delivery trucks, three trucks of water. FEMA turned them back. They had 1,000 gallons of diesel fuel on a Coast Guard vessel. It was docked in Jefferson Parish. The Coast Guard said, ``Come and get the fuel right away. When we got there with our trucks, they got the word. FEMA says, `Don't give the fuel.' Yesterday, yesterday FEMA comes in and cuts all our communication lines.'' Why is FEMA cutting communications?

``The guy who runs the building I am in, Emergency Management,'' this is Aaron Broussard on Meet the Press, ``he is responsible for everything. His mother was trapped in St. Bernard Nursing Home, and every day she called him and said, `Are you coming, son? Is somebody coming?' He said, `Yeah, mama, somebody is coming to get you.' `Somebody is coming to get you on Tuesday.' `Somebody is coming to get you on Wednesday.' `Somebody is coming to get you on Thursday.' `Somebody is coming to get you on Friday.' And she drowned Friday night.''

[Time: 18:45]

And she drowned Friday night. ``Nobody is coming to get us. Nobody is coming to get us. The Secretary has promised. Everybody has promised. They have had press conferences. I'm sick of the press conferences. For God's sake, just shut up and send us somebody.'' Aaron Broussard.

Want the facts? The FEMA chief waited 5 hours after Katrina made landfall on August 29. Five hours.

It is clear also that the administration would like to avoid a blame game. They want to do everything to not discuss the failures. What is Michael Brown's reaction to all of this? Michael Brown, FEMA director, says in a CNN interview: ``Considering the dire circumstances that we have in New Orleans, virtually a city that has been destroyed, things are going relatively well.'' That is our FEMA director, Michael Brown. How out of touch could this man have been?

Those 9/11 activists know how critical it is to construct a timeline, because the timeline tells us who did what and when they did it. The timeline will tell us the truth. The timeline cuts through the spin. So, of course, I made a point to get in touch with the folks who were collecting the timelines, and there are a lot of timelines available on the Internet. Think Progress has a timeline, and WWL also has a timeline.

All the while this was going on, the news media reported that the Iraq war costs now exceed Vietnam's. But I think it is pretty clear that the Iraq war is costing us more than money. Let us just look at where some of those assets were. Mississippi has 40 percent of its National Guard forces in Iraq. Louisiana has 35 percent of its National Guard forces in Iraq. Florida has 26 percent. Alabama has 23 percent of its National Guard forces in Iraq.

On June 8, 2004, in the New Orleans Times-Picayune, Walter Maestri, who is emergency management chief for Jefferson Parish, said, ``It appears that the money has been moved in the President's budget to handle homeland security and the war in Iraq. And I suppose that's the price we pay. Nobody locally is happy that the levees can't be finished, and we're doing everything we can to make the case that this is a security issue for us.'' Security, we are going to discuss that in a minute.

On April 24, 2004, the Times-Picayune said: ``Less money is available to the Army Corps of Engineers to build levees and water projects in the Mississippi River Valley this year and next year.'' Nobody can say they did not know, were not warned, whatever it is that the spin machine might come up with.

National Geographic Magazine, October 2004, came up with an article that reported on a simulation, I will not call it a game, but a simulation of what would happen should a hurricane hit New Orleans: ``As the whirling maelstrom approached the coast, more than a million people evacuated to higher ground. Some 200,000 remained, however. The carless, the homeless, the aged, the infirm, and those die-hard

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New Orleanians who look for any excuse to throw a party.'' It goes on to describe just exactly what happened during Hurricane Katrina, but that was in October 2004.

The Louisiana National Guard also knew that they were paying a price that was perhaps too high. On August 1 the Louisiana National Guard complained that they were taking critical equipment to Iraq that should have remained in Louisiana. But when the Bush administration does not like what one says, they just fire them. So there was a former Member of Congress that I had the pleasure to serve with, Mike Parker from Mississippi, who was with the Army Corps of Engineers. He complained that they were cutting the Army Corps of Engineers budget too much, and so he was forced out.

Now it turns out that Michael Brown was forced out too. He was forced out from the job he had before he became the FEMA assistant director and then director. Let me see if I can read this correctly. Michael Brown's previous employment was with the International Arabian Horse Association, and he was fired from that job too. They said that he was asked to resign. And so, of course, eminently qualified to serve in the Bush administration; he gets one of the most important jobs in the country with the lives of the American people in his hands.

We know that this is what they do, hurting people whom they disagree with, because there is the case of another Army Corps of Engineers employee by the name of Bunnatine Greenhouse, who complained about the no-bid sweetheart deal private contracts going to Halliburton. Well, she was forced out of her job too because, even though Vice President Dick Cheney still gets his deferred compensation checks from Halliburton Corporation, I guess the Bush administration is not finished with Halliburton, because they have been hired to do the storm cleanup. Is there no other corporation in America? Why is it that it always has to be Halliburton?

Well, the Times-Picayune calls for the firing of Michael Brown; and I have signed my name to many letters that are floating around here calling for his firing, his resignation, Chertoff's as well; and in a minute somebody on this House floor is going to mention impeachment.

But as if making sure that Halliburton got what they needed to get, I checked the FEMA Web site, and on the FEMA Web site it says: ``Help the victims of Hurricane Katrina.'' First on the list is American Red Cross. We remember that during 9/11, there were many complaints from the victims of 9/11, and I remember seeing one report of the symphony orchestra getting some of the 9/11 contributions. But there is Operation Blessing. Operation Blessing was founded by Pat Robertson. That is the same Pat Robertson who called for the assassination of a duly elected president, Hugo Chavez, of Venezuela. How can FEMA recommend that someone who calls for the murder of somebody else get hard-earned money from the American people? It is on the FEMA Web site, and it is outrageous.

But there is more. Sadly, there is more. I agree with the Tom Hartman article: ``You Can't Govern if You Don't Believe in Government.'' What we have witnessed here in utter stark relief is the culmination of all of that Republican ideology against government, against the people, against helping people who are in need. Ronald Reagan was elected President by saying: ``The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, `I'm from the government and I'm here to help.''' Newt Gingrich in 1995 told us what he thought about government. He was speaking about Medicare. He said: ``Now, we don't want to get rid of it in round one because we don't think that's politically smart and we do not think that's the right way to go through a transition. But we believe it is going to wither on the vine because we think people are going to voluntarily leave it.'' Wither on the vine.

Grover Norquist in 2001 said this, and I think this encapsulates it all: ``I don't want to abolish government. I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub.''

That is how these people feel about government. So I am not surprised that the Army Corps of Engineers budget is cut to the extent it is cut. I am not surprised.

Here, Bush's agenda is to cut government services to the bone and make people rely on the private sector for the things they need. So he sliced $71 million from the budget of the New Orleans Corps of Engineers, a 44 percent reduction. In addition, the President cut $30 million in flood control. And then Bush took to the airwaves on ``Good Morning America'' on September 1 and said, ``I don't think anyone anticipated that breach of the levees.''

[Time: 19:00]

``I don't think anyone anticipated that breach of the levees.''

Now, in stark contrast to the way the Department of Homeland Security mobilized to secure the people of the gulf States, within 48 hours of the notification of the death of Chief Justice Rehnquist, Bush nominated Roberts to serve as Chief Justice. They are real fast at doing some things.

Now, at some point, we have to talk about values and priorities and how it has become that our values and our priorities are so twisted and mangled now. We are focusing on other things, and some of those things are important. I am not going to say that everything is not so important that has become a priority. We had a resolution today that six people voted against to give Bush another blank check in the war on terrorism. I was one of the six.

No more blank checks, Mr. President, not for war, not for war.

I went to the Committee on Homeland Security's Web site, and I just thought I would look and see which subcommittee has jurisdiction for natural disasters. Well, I could not believe it. I did not see any mention at all of natural disasters. So I went to one of our interns, whose eyes are a whole lot younger than mine, and I said, Would you please scour the entire website, because I have put in a search and it did not come up in a search; scour the entire website, and I want you to highlight the number of times you see the mention of the two words, ``natural disaster.''

It is not mentioned. It is not mentioned. On the entire Committee on Homeland Security Web site ``natural disaster'' is not mentioned.

Now, a young man had a script before him, and he was supposed to read the script, but he took the opportunity to deviate from the script and speak his mind. His name is Kanye West. He has been on the cover of all these national magazines talking about how he is the most brilliant new hip-hop, rap artist, Kanye West. And now, he is being vilified because he dared to take a detour from what some people wanted him to say and say what he wanted to say, which is, quite frankly, the origins of hip-hop anyway, young people who have something to say and have found the means to say it.

Kanye West said, ``I hate the way they portray us in the media. You see a black family; it says they are `looting.' You see a white family; it says they are `looking for food.' And, you know, it has been 5 days, because most of the people are black, and even for me to complain about it, I would be a hypocrite, because I have tried to turn away from the TV because it is too hard to watch. I have even been shopping before even giving a donation.

``So now I am calling my business manager right now to see what is the biggest amount I can give,'' notice he said he is calling his business manager; I want you to pay attention to that. ``And, just imagine if I was down there and those are my people down there. So anybody out there that wants to do anything that we can help with the way America is set up to help the poor, the black people, the less well off, as slow as possible.''

Now, NBC censored that. NBC has decided that they can determine what we hear from the smartest young man in hip-hop.

He also said, ``George Bush doesn't care about black people.'' NBC censored it. They deleted his remarks. And MSNBC President Rick Kaplan, who produced the telethon at Rockefeller Plaza in New York, had the cameras cut to actor Chris Tucker who was on a different part of the stage and who appeared to be looking off at something else in the camera. So it was the MSNBC president, who was also the producer, who said, Well, you know, maybe the American people do not need to hear the smartest young man in hip-hop's ideas about George Bush.

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Thank goodness, I can come to the floor of the House and speak my piece. And as long as C-SPAN cameras are running, well, it will not be cut off, but I understand there is even an effort to try and limit C-SPAN's access to American households.

But I have to tell my colleagues something. As I saw the African Americans, mostly African American families ripped apart, I could only think about slavery, families ripped apart, herded into what looked like concentration camps. So I was reminded of a Miami Herald article written on July 5, the day after Freedom Day, 1987.

The title of the article was ``Reagan Aides and the Secret Government,'' and here is a quote from that article: ``A copy of the memo was obtained by the Herald. The scenario outlined in the Brinkerhoff memo resembles somewhat a paper Giufreda had written in 1970 at the Army War College in Carlyle, Pennsylvania, in which he advocated martial law in case of a national uprising by black militants.'' In which he advocated martial law in case of a national uprising by black militants. The paper also advocated the roundup and transfer of two ``assembly centers or relocation camps of at least 21 million American Negroes.''

Now, I did not write that; the U.S. Government wrote that. They were going to round up 21 million Negroes because they were afraid of freeing black people. A story of neglect? I am not surprised about any story of neglect of the people that comes from this body with this set of priorities, that passes these kinds of budgets on the backs of the American people, these kinds of tax cuts on the backs of the American people.

I want to commend my sister Congresswoman, the gentlewoman from California (Ms. Lee), who has said that it is time for us to get serious about poverty in this country. It is time for us to get serious. I am a proud cosponsor of legislation with the gentlewoman from California (Ms. Lee).

I will just conclude by saying that on the United States State Department Web site is ``How to identify misinformation.'' Does the story fit the pattern of a conspiracy theory?