Sunday, June 18, 2006

What's Another $1.5 Billion

How do you lose $1.5 Billion of Katrina relief money?  Well you can’t lay this one on Brownie – he had long been cast out as the poster boy of incompetence or sacrificial scapegoat depending on your point of view.  OK, guys just stay on message, dissemble about progress being made in Iraq, get the House to “debate” the war and incorporate the conflict into the so-called war on terrorism and all will be well.  If you say it, it has to be true.  The stupid public won’t even notice, and besides what’s a mere $1.5 when we’re throwing away zillions on misadventures, writing checks to your near and dear for no-bid contracts and rebating tax dollars to those who need them least.  If this stuff weren’t killing us – no scratch that, killing someone else’s kids or if the majority of New Orleans’ disadvantaged citizens weren’t still refugees unlikely ever to return home – it might be funny.  But it’s not and $1.5 Billion is serious money.  It’s not only the Congress that has been out-to-lunch on oversight; it’s obviously the professional managers at FEMA and everywhere else in this administration.

Republicans pride themselves on being the party of ideas, as opposed to the Democrats who are painted as intellectually bankrupt.  They certainly are the party of ideology and of such a consistent and slavish adherence to the playbook that even facts or changes in circumstance (not to mention failure) won’t get in their way or move them off script.  The irony is that the Party of business, can’t seem to run anything well.  They are a bunch of incompetents who rely on public relations stunts and manipulated bookkeeping.  What was it that their hero Ronald Reagan said to Jimmy Carter, “there you go again”.  And so do they.  Just as the great man’s robust 1980s economy was a house of cards built on borrowed money, so too do his successors see victory through their own rose colored glasses relying on the notion that you can indeed fool all of the people all of the time.  Most of the rest of us poor slobs find it increasingly painful to watch or read the daily news because it is simply too depressing and we seem unable to do anything about it.  They talk, no they pontificate in a manner that Jack Murtha who actually put his life in the line in two wars sees as unseemly.  They want someone else’s kid to do the heavy life threatening lifting and stay the course for them while criticizing defeatest reporters for not venturing out in the combat zone.  Really? Then how did more than 70 journalists lose their lives when not a single flag waving Congressman (or conservative author or talking head) sustain so much as a scratch.  Zbigniew Brzezinski cuts to the chase when he questions the credibility of a democratic Iraqi government that sits alongside its American sponsors behind the the protected walls of Green Zone – perhaps one day it can govern but at the moment the “unity” government is more virtual theater than reality.  And don’t gloat about that, it’s a real tragedy, one for which millions of Iraqis are paying dearly every day, along with thousands of young Americans who are loyally playing the cards they have been dealt.

Democrats are blithely labeled the tax and spend party.  Yes indeed they are and there is good reason to be proud of it.  Prudent managers don’t spend money they don’t have and the only way a government can have money is, hello, to tax.  The Republicans on the other hand are the borrow and spend party, those of a paper prosperity and Enron bookkeeping who have mortgaged our children to the China.  Yes, they are the guys who doled out $1.5 Million to those practicing slight of hand – the kind of people to whom they can really relate.

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