It's fair to say that Louisiana's local and state elected officials flunked preparing for dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
From slow reactions, no follow through on the emergency management plan, to delay and federalizing the problem. To call the Mayor and Governor inept may be an understatement.
As for the federal response, it was okay and has gotten better day by day.
Texas citizens and leadership, especially Judge Robert Eckels and Democratic Mayor Bill White, were outstanding and well prepared.
So the big question is, how does this affect conservatives and their future?
Locally with estimates of 25,000 to 75,000 potentially new residents, Houston and Harris County becomes more Democratic. TCR fully expects most of the evacuees who are re-settled in apartments and get job assistance will stay. This means in Harris County that the GOP must get hopping, registering voters and attracting newcomers. The Democrats are already gearing up.
Statewide, as many as 250,000 new Texas residents who likewise could lean Democratic (remember New Orleans was a Democratic stronghold), compressing the GOP advantage in the state. This creates challenges for the state GOP to get with it with a strong issue oriented party building agenda and for our statewide officials to deal with our existing problems: runaway property taxes, school finance, along with the added problems of a huge influx of school children, welfare needs, Medicaid numbers and transitioning evacuees into contributing Texans. If we do it right, Texas will be much better for it. If we blow it, Texas will begin a downward spiral.
Nationally, President Bush has unfairly taken a big hit when he did all that was asked for by local officials. FEMA itself is obviously a work in progress and will get new leadership with hands-on experience with responses to disasters.
Further, Congress and the White House need to view funding in response to a disaster as one based on national priorities, not local pork barrel politics. For the wrong example, see the recent Transportation bills and Homeland Security bills.
The hurricane also points out the excesses of the environmental movement. We have become irresponsibly dependent on one region, the Gulf Coast, for our domestic oil supplies and around half of our oil refinery capacity. Katrina knocked out 91% of the production and 13% of our refinery capacity, thus $3.00+ gasoline.
With no refineries built domestically in almost thirty years and no drilling offshore except Texas and Louisiana and no drilling in ANWAR in Alaska, we are creating our own problems.
We need a new energy policy, one that will focus on increasing oil and gas production and diversifying domestic supply. We also need to reduce consumption (demand). Engineers say we can build hybrid cars that get 50, 60, 70 or more miles per gallon. Sounds like a way to revive our domestic automobile industry. Lets revive our American can-do spirit and make it happen. This is the opportunity the GOP, President Bush, and conservatives have been given, let's not blow it.
U.S. Economy Reality Check
TCR thanks The Richebächer Letter (www.richebacher.com) for the following startling U.S. economic statistics since 1998:
- Median Family Income 2000-2004 - Down .9%
- According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, private sector employment 2001-2004 is up 2.2 million, but after 1.5 million deaths are accounted for, the net increase is significantly lower!
- Housing Equity withdrawal - This rapidly expanding tool allows Americans to continue to fund consumption by reducing equity in their business. This mechanism increases the size of the housing bubble exponentially. Could our economic recovery be based on these loans?
A weakening U.S. economy means trouble for the dollar and overpriced assets. Clearly there is trouble and economic uncertainty ahead and this was before Katrina.
COMING - September 30 at 8 p.m. to Channel 8 PBS in Houston, Texas - the connection - Red, White & Blue featuring TCR Editor Gary Polland and liberal commentator David Jones. The guest is Speaker Pro Tempore Sylvester Turner. And coming soon Senator Rodney Ellis, Religious Conservative Leader Rev. Rick Scarbrough, Comptroller Carole Strayhorn and many more.About Your Editor
Gary Polland is a long-time conservative and Republican spokesman, fund-raiser, and leader who recently completed three terms as the Harris County Republican Chairman. During his three terms, Gary was described as the most successful county Chairman in America by Human Events - The National Conservative Weekly. He is in his ninth year of editing a newsletter dealing with key conservative and Republican issues. The last four years he has edited Texas Conservative Review. Gary is a practicing attorney and strategic consultant and can be reached at (713) 621-6335.
Tune in Thursday
Nights - Houston Warner Cable channel 17 at 6:30 PM for Texas Politics-The Real Deal
with co-hosts David Jones and Gary Polland, awarded Cable T.V. personalities of the year by the Houston Press.