Thursday, September 15, 2005


George Bush's real speech: Give me more money and power, with less accountability

I am not unremittingly hostile to George Bush. Indeed, I continue to pray that light will penetrate the moral dimness in which he is enshrouded. We cannot be said to believe in God if we doubt His power to achieve even such an unlikely miracle. But it always amazes me how otherwise sensible people invest such childlike faith in a man who has proven so often that behind each heart-stirring phrase is a con so cynical and Orwellian it makes Richard Nixon seem by contrast as spotless as the Virgin. Politicians should be assumed to be scoundrels. Anything less is all but un-American. So pay attention to what the speech said. It was by no means all bad. Aside from the standard boilerplate about suffering and heroism and the unconquerable American spirit, it struck tones that radio talk show host Johnny Wendell identified as almost (Lyndon Baines) Johnsonian: [T]his great city will rise again. [S]ome of the hardest work is still ahead and it will require the creative skill and generosity of a united country. As all of us saw on television, there is also some deep, persistent poverty in this region as well. And that poverty has roots in a history of racial discrimination, which cut off generations from the opportunity of America. We have a duty to confront this poverty with bold action. So let us restore all that we have cherished from yesterday, and let us rise above the legacy of inequality. [T]here should be many new businesses, including minority-owned businesses, along those streets. When the houses are rebuilt, more families should own, not rent, those houses. There was a promise that the rapacity would, for once, be kept in bounds: [T]axpayers expect this work to be done honestly and wisely, so we will have a team of inspectors general reviewing all expenditures. And a bow toward a bipartisanship that has been completely lacking heretofore: The United States Congress also has an important oversight function to perform. Congress is preparing an investigation, and I will work with members of both parties to make sure this effort is thorough. But how was the rebuilding to be accomplished? Probably through organized looting and other depradations against established order: * a Gulf Opportunity Zone. This sounds like regulatory rollback. * incentives for "job-creating". This sounds like a subminimum wage, elimination of unions, or possibly outright socialism * investment tax relief for small businesses. Payoffs to contributors? In the business world, "small businesses" can do up to $30 million in revenue and employee 1500 people And as we learned from the LATimes, land values are soaring, indicating people do not need incentives. They sense that this will be a big payoff to contributors, not justice for the urban poor. * loans and loan guarantees for small businesses. See above. * Urban Homesteading Act. One small problem: the land is already owned. So what does this mean? So, watch the money. It very likely will end up mostly in the pockets of the already-wealthy. But that's not my major concern. This is: It is now clear that a challenge on this scale requires greater federal authority and a broader role for the armed forces, the institution of our government most capable of massive logistical operations on a moment's notice. The man has near-dictatorial powers. No necessary authority was denied him in responding to Katrina. He wants the power to use the armed forces as his personal law enforcement agent. He wants to be king.
I never thought Paul Krugman would out-Eeyore me, but he has. Bush does that to people:

It's a given that the Bush administration, which tried to turn Iraq into a laboratory for conservative economic policies, will try the same thing on the Gulf Coast. The Heritage Foundation, which has surely been helping Karl Rove develop the administration's recovery plan, has already published a manifesto on post-Katrina policy. It calls for waivers on environmental rules, the elimination of capital gains taxes and the private ownership of public school buildings in the disaster areas. And if any of the people killed by Katrina, most of them poor, had a net worth of more than $1.5 million, Heritage wants to exempt their heirs from the estate tax.
Sorry, should have included the link to Krugman

And thanked the Smirking Chimp for drawing it to my attention
"He wants the power to use the armed forces as his personal law enforcement agent."

Also to make a land grab.
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