Inside the Beltway

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Politics and Katrina

It was only a matter of time before President Bush was blamed for the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina.

Waving its finger at the president is the American Progress Action Fund, a sister advocacy organization of the Center for American Progress, whose president and chief executive officer is John Podesta, former chief of staff to President Clinton, and its senior vice president is Morton H. Halperin, former special assistant to Mr. Clinton.

In 2001, the organization recalls, the Federal Emergency Management Agency ranked a major hurricane strike on New Orleans as “among the three likeliest, most catastrophic disasters facing this country,” directly behind a terrorist strike on New York City.

After initially criticizing Mr. Bush for “continuing his vacation” in the wake of the monster storm — yesterday afternoon the president decided to cancel the remainder of his vacation and return to Washington to concentrate on federal disaster-relief efforts — the group issued a report titled, “How Not to Prepare for a Massive Hurricane, by President Bush.”

Among other points, it charges that “two months ago, President Bush took an ax to budget funds that would have helped New Orleans prepare for such a disaster.” It singled out the New Orleans branch of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, busy yesterday plugging ruptured levees, as “suffering” a record $71.2 million reduction in federal funding this year, a 44 percent reduction from its 2001 levels.

Martin and John

Rekindling the spirit of Martin Luther King Jr., blacks in America aren’t being silent about the nomination of Judge John G. Roberts Jr. to the Supreme Court — albeit for this cause, the minority group’s leaders are divided for a change.

Responding to attacks from left-wing blacks, the black leadership network Project 21 is defending its assertion that the beliefs of King are more in line with the record of Judge Roberts than with the agenda of those currently laying claim to the civil rights leader’s legacy.

The debate began more than a week ago when Project 21 member Mychal Massie remarked: “John Roberts is the type of jurist who represents the beliefs of great Americans such as James Madison and Martin Luther King Jr.”

At which point African-American Ministers In Action Chairman Tim McDonald charged that Mr. Massie sought to “pull the wool over the eyes” of the black community, while fellow member Roger Wilkins added: “John Roberts is no Martin Luther King Jr.”

Mr. Massie says he does not apologize “nor shrink from my comments comparing the beliefs” of Judge Roberts and Mr. King.

“To suggest that I have in some way discredited Dr. King is simply the knee-jerk, apoplectic hysteria of those who find fault with anyone not espousing their leftist mantra of self-segregation and special rights,” he says.

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