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Two years later "region still struggling"- understatement, anyone?

Reported by Chrish - August 30, 2007 -

Former US Rep. John Kasich (R-OH), host of FOX's Heartland, subbed for Bill O'Reilly tonight 8/29/07 and discussed New Orleans two years later with historian Douglas Brinkley, Ph.D, author of "The Great Deluge." Kasich was, like most of us, disgusted with the lack of progress in repairing the great city of New Orleans, and diluted the blame of the federal response with charges of incompetence at the state and local levels. Same old song and dance, two years later.

Brinkley estimates that New Orleans needs an infusion of $40-$50 Billion in federal aid to fully recover the levees, a number which struck me because the high end is what Bush is reportedly going to ask Congress for to be spent on rebuilding Iraq - and "The additional funds would come on top of about $460 billion in the fiscal 2008 defense budget and $147 billion in a pending supplemental bill to fund the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq."

Yep, we're spending it over there so we can't spend it here.

Video was shown of ceremonies and memorials held today, mingled with scenes from 2005. Bush was shown voicing platitudes about unbroken spirit blah blah, (what a cheerleader), ending with him congratulating a couple on their "beautiful" new home and receiving a hug from the woman. It was the photo op, though, and we'll see it again.

Above sea level the city of NOLA is recovering well, but the below sea-level areas are not and the levees remain a worry - can they withstand a Category 5 or even another Category 3 storm?
He cited the $40-$50 billion needed to repair the levees, saying it would be the biggest public works project in American history.

Kasich reiterated his outraged amazement - "this is not in Russia, where some kind of meltdown occurred. This is the United States of America! How is it conceivable that this has not been fixed?"

Bluntly, Brinkley said we haven't had leadership. He cited Teddy Roosevelt building the Panama Canal, FDR and the New Deal, Eisenhower and the Federal Highway system, and said "Bush has a policy of inaction." The federal government's attitude, he said, is that we have a trillion dollar debt, a war in Iraq, we don't have time for a huge public works project for the Gulf South. We had a Marshall Plan for Europe but we can't come up with one for the Gilf South, apparently. He's hoping the future of the region will be debated in the 2008 election seaason.

Kasich sighed and said there is no excuse for government at ALL levels for not fixing this thing. Note that he's spreading the blame and while he claims to be angry about the situation he doesn't direct his ire at Bush - in fact, he diverts it from Bush.

Kasich also touched on the trial of Salvador and Mabel Mangano, who ran a nursing home and didn't evacuate their clients. 35 people subsequently died; the Manganos "defense strategy is to shift blame to federal authorities for failing to secure the levees and state authorities for failing to order mandatory evacuations." Brinkley essentially said that it was a sub-par nursing home with inadequate resources to move their clients, and the lesson to be learned is to be careful when choosing a facility.

Kasich had one last (loaded) question: Mississippi hasn't had as much trouble rebuilding; what's the difference, in a nutshell, between what's happening in MS under Haley Barbour, and what's happening in New Orleans? (This immediately followed clips of LA Governor Kathleen Blanco, clearly labeled (D), during the Mangano segment.) Brinkley dutifully replied that the difference is leadership, with Barbour, Lott, and Cochran, but also it didn't have the levee situation that NOLA has - 350 miles of sub-par built by the Army Corps of Engineers - "the levees is the difference." (Cue music) "and the leadership," he added hastily.

Biggest domestic screw-up ever, before, during and after, and they STILL can't bring themselves to hold Bush accountable on FOX.