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September 04, 2005

Michael Berube Lays It On The Line

If you've been reading Kevin Drum lately, you know he's outraged. That's quite a switch from the mild-mannered Kevin I know. Kevin has quoted various Bush administration officials, and wonders what's with those people.

For instance, he quoted Bush, who said "I don't think anyone anticipated the breach of those levees." In fact, an article for the Times Picayune stated that "For the first time in 37 years, federal budget cuts have all but stopped major work on the New Orleans area's east bank hurricane levees, a complex network of concrete walls, metal gates and giant earthen berms that won't be finished for at least another decade." [...] "I can't tell you exactly what that could mean this hurricane season if we get a major storm," Naomi said. "It would depend on the path and speed of the storm, the angle that it hits us. [...] "But I can tell you that we would be better off if the levees were raised, . . . and I think it's important and only fair that those people who live behind the levee know the status of these projects." [...] The Bush administration's proposed fiscal 2005 budget includes only $3.9 million for the east bank hurricane project. Congress likely will increase that amount, although last year it bumped up the administration's $3 million proposal only to $5.5 million. I needed $11 million this year, and I got $5.5 million," Naomi said. "I need $22.5 million next year to do everything that needs doing, and the first $4.5 million of that will go to pay four contractors who couldn't get paid this year."

Then there was Speaker of the House Denny Hastert, who said "It makes no sense to spend billions of dollars to rebuild a city that's seven feet under sea level." He also said "It looks like a lot of that place could be bulldozed."

Kevin went on to wonder about comments made by other Bush administration officials that shows that those people don't know what's going on, don't care what's going on, and are going to take their good old time dealing with the tragedy in New Orleans. After all, Condi needs a new pair of shoes.

Kevin Drum wondered, what's with those people?

Michael Berube answered:

Well, Kevin, I'm going to go out on a limb here and suggest that these people are Republicans.  Not just any kind of Republicans, either—they're modern Republicans.  Modern Republicans are not the Republicans you and I remember from childhood, Kevin.  Those Republicans balanced budgets.  They built highways.  They did social infrastructure, and they did disaster management.  They knew where other countries were, too.  They helped to fund universities, and they didn't mind that university professors taught the theory of evolution.  Some of them were even pretty good on civil rights.

Modern Republicans have left all that behind.  They don't like government; they want, in Lovable Furry Old Grover Norquist's famous words, to shrink government to the size at which it can be drowned in the bathtub.  Consequently, when they get into government, they quickly fill its halls with two kinds of people:  people who are charged with the task of destroying the agencies they run, and people who have no idea whatsoever about how their agencies work.  (Reagan set the template:  James Watt at Interior, Clarence Thomas at the EEOC, Anne Gorsuch at EPA, among the destroyers; Samuel Pierce at HUD, among the no-idea-whatsoevers.  FEMA gets the latter group.) So your modern Republicans don't do disaster management.  In fact, there’s a lot of things they don't do anymore.  Basically, they're down to two things:  one wing retools the tax code so as to redistribute wealth to their friends and cronies in the top .001 of American society, and the other wing works to expel gays and lesbians from the body politic.  That’s about it.  They don't even do war very well anymore, to be honest.  If it doesn't involve hoarding wealth or crusading against gays and lesbians, their hearts aren't really in it.  (That's why they've been pretty good at the "hoarding wealth" part of the Iraqi occupation but not so good at the military and diplomatic parts.  And of course they like where the Islamist clerics stand on gays and lesbians, too.)

Now, I know some folks will say that I’m not being entirely fair to modern Republicans.  They're right, I'm not.  Some modern Republicans, such as the Dauphin, like to dress up in lots of specially personalized uniforms.  But that's not a matter of public policy.

When the levees first broke, I thought that the Bush Administration had drawn up a list of American Cities Worth Saving.  You know, Denver, Indianapolis, Phoenix, Omaha, Richmond, Tallahassee, Topeka, and of course Dallas and Houston.  And cities not worth saving—the rest of 'em.  But now I don't think they got even that far.  They're not specifically motivated to abandon New Orleans just because the city is full of poor people and African-Americans; they simply never gave a serious thought to New Orleans one way or the other.  Now, if the mayor of New Orleans had been conducting gay marriages, then sure, the federal government would have intervened in a heartbeat.  But repeated warnings of natural disasters?  Plans for delivering food, water, and medicine to trapped survivors?  Your modern Republican doesn’t read those.  In fact, he fires people who persist in writing 'em after they've been told to chill.

Kevin, we could use a man like Thomas Dewey again.  But he was from your father's GOP, and that Old School is long, long gone.

Posted on September 4, 2005 at 05:06 PM | Permalink

Comments

Hey sorry you are getting so many pings. That's this setup I have. It's goofy. You should see how many times it pinged the Carnival of the Cats just from trying to change some verbiage. LOL

Posted by: Moi ;) at Sep 5, 2005 12:23:28 PM

I haven't noticed a lot of pings, but I'm clueless. ;)

How come there are so many pings? What's going on? Is your server belching?

Posted by: The Countess at Sep 5, 2005 12:33:21 PM

Belching, puking.....whatever - it doesn't always do this. I am able to edit posts and not send fifteen million pings (as a rule, anyway)...not today.

Posted by: Moi ;) at Sep 5, 2005 6:10:15 PM

Moi: "Belching, puking...."

You left out farting. ;) I'm sure it's doing that, too.

Posted by: The Countess at Sep 5, 2005 7:44:23 PM

Berube forgot the "enrichissez-vous" trope in modern Republican thinking. In a nutshell, government gave people infrastructure in the Eisenhower era and that's enough. You want any more, you fork out for it, Jack. Whuich means: get rich, fool. I have no doubt animus toward non-whites played less a role in the non-response to all this than it would have even twenty years ago. If the coonasses couldn't have got out, they would have drowned too. The real guiding attitude is "God helps those who made a pile". I've seen it far too often in the faces of the many Republicans I know and am related to for it to be otherwise. They're hip enough to know that people generally want infrastructure, a clean environment and protection from the worst. They want it too. They simply feel if you want it, well, just get a great job and move somewhere where all that is available.

Posted by: DP_in_SF at Sep 6, 2005 8:50:28 PM