Friday, September 02, 2005

They Don't Get It

Ken Mehlman, GOP chair, speaking in July to the NAACP:

By the 70s and into the 80s and 90s, the Democratic Party solidified its gains in the African American community, and we Republicans did not effectively reach out.

Some Republicans gave up on winning the African American vote, looking the other way or trying to benefit politically from racial polarization. I am here today as the Republican Chairman to tell you we were wrong.

But if my party benefited from racial polarization in the past, it is the Democratic Party that benefits from it today.

I know it is not in my interest as chairman of the Republican Party for close to 90% of African-Americans to vote for the Democrat every election. But more important, its not in the interest of African-Americans for 90% to vote for the Democrat every election.

And its not healthy for the country for our political parties to be so racially polarized. African-American voters should have the benefit of a two-party system. In recent years, the Democratic Party, in my judgment, has come to take many African American voters for granted.

Just as the Democrats came to this community in 1964 with something real to offer, today we Republicans have something that should cause you to take another look at the party of Lincoln.

Just last month, Bruce Gordon talked about a wider vision of civil rights. "We've got to get the right emphasis placed on economic equality," he said. "I happen to think that when you have economic stability and equality that often becomes an enabler for social equality."

I couldnt agree more.

The next step in civil rights is to build on equal treatment under the law to ensure equal opportunity to pursue the American Dream, equal opportunity in education, equal opportunity in where you live, equal opportunity in making a living, equal opportunity for a secure retirement.



Mehlman's email to the party faithful this week during the worse natural disaster in the country's history:

When they return from their August recess, Senators will consider a key issue: elimination of the death tax. The death tax is an unfair double taxation of income, which hurts America's small businesses and farms and threatens job growth. Unfortunately, Senate Democrats are working hard to oppose our efforts to eliminate this unfair tax.

Will you help bring tax relief to more hard-working Americans? Call Senator X at XXX-XXX-XXXX and ask them to eliminate the death tax.

Our party's opportunity agenda means allowing families to keep more of the income they earn. This historic tax relief in the president's first term was only the beginning. The Senate needs to do its part by making tax relief permanent and burying the death tax forever.


Report in the September 2004 Independent on Bush and FEMA:

Among emergency specialists, "mitigation" the measures taken in advance to minimize the damage caused by natural disasters is a crucial part of the strategy to save lives and cut recovery costs. But since 2001, key federal disaster mitigation programs, developed over many years, have been slashed and tossed aside. FEMA's Project Impact, a model mitigation program created by the Clinton administration, has been canceled outright.

....[In 2001], President Bush appointed a close aide, Joe Allbaugh, to be the agency's new director....The White House quickly launched a government-wide effort to privatize public services, including key elements of disaster management. Bush's first budget director, Mitch Daniels, spelled out the philosophy in remarks at an April 2001 conference: "The general idea — that the business of government is not to provide services, but to make sure that they are provided — seems self-evident to me," he said.

In a May 15, 2001, appearance before a Senate appropriations subcommittee, Allbaugh signaled that the new, stripped-down approach would be applied at FEMA as well. "Many are concerned that federal disaster assistance may have evolved into both an oversized entitlement program and a disincentive to effective state and local risk management," he said. "Expectations of when the federal government should be involved and the degree of involvement may have ballooned beyond what is an appropriate level."


Will Bunch, writing in Editor-and-Publisher, on the relationship between federal spending, tax cuts, and the defense and security of the Gulf Coast:

New Orleans had long known it was highly vulnerable to flooding and a direct hit from a hurricane. In fact, the federal government has been working with state and local officials in the region since the late 1960s on major hurricane and flood relief efforts. When flooding from a massive rainstorm in May 1995 killed six people, Congress authorized the Southeast Louisiana Urban Flood Control Project, or SELA.

Over the next 10 years, the Army Corps of Engineers, tasked with carrying out SELA, spent $430 million on shoring up levees and building pumping stations, with $50 million in local aid. But at least $250 million in crucial projects remained, even as hurricane activity in the Atlantic Basin increased dramatically and the levees surrounding New Orleans continued to subside.

Yet after 2003, the flow of federal dollars toward SELA dropped to a trickle. The Corps never tried to hide the fact that the spending pressures of the war in Iraq, as well as homeland security -- coming at the same time as federal tax cuts -- was the reason for the strain. At least nine articles in the Times-Picayune from 2004 and 2005 specifically cite the cost of Iraq as a reason for the lack of hurricane- and flood-control dollars.

Well, Ken, it might not be in yours or your party's interest for Democrats to win 90% of the African-American vote all the time, but if your list of priorities, combined with your administration's response to the biggest disaster in American history are any indication, I don't see your share of the African-American vote increasing anytime soon.

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