September 23, 2005

Tax & Spend (neo)Conservatives

As the “Tax & Spend (neo) Conservatives” have been bankrupting our country for the past 5 years, let’s take a look at the similarities between the Iraq & Katrina debacles.

After all the shellacking the Democrats took from Republicans, being called “Tax & Spend Liberals”, I thought it was time to return the favor. Since the ‘fiscally conservative’ Republicans have been in charge of all three branches of government, have they not earned the title of “tax & spend”? Sure, you might have been the beneficiary of some tax cuts if you’re rich, but haven’t you been paying for it so many other ways? And surely, won’t our descendents will be paying for it for years to come?

And what about the spending? Have the ‘fiscally conservative’ Republicans held the line on spending? Or perhaps the $300b+ on the debacle in Iraq just doesn’t count. Now we have the Katrina disaster in the Gulf to clean up, followed by another in Hurricane Rita, and another $200b-$300b+ or so to borrow. The truth is, under the Bush Administration, the colossal spending won’t end. As we dump another couple hundred billion into Iraq over the next couple of years to pay for Bush’s war, our deficit & debt will balloon out of control, and he’ll continue to refuse to back off of tax cuts for rich people.

Two Disasters – Iraq & Katrina – What’s Changed?

What really strikes me as uncanny, are the similarities between the Iraq & Katrina disasters. In each debacle the most affected & impacted people were the poor/minority/underprivileged, of whom George and his henchmen couldn’t care less about. And in each debacle, Bush’s rich corporate-pilfering cronies were/are able to capitalize.

The Underprivileged

If you weren’t born with a silver spoon in your mouth, chances are you’ve been screwed over by the Bush Administration. If you’re an Iraqi Muslim, chances are you were killed when Bush bombed the crap out of your country, or you’re in a prison being tortured. If you’re still alive and not in prison, you’re living in fear with minimal running water & electricity.

If you’re black and/or poor in New Orleans, chances are you’re dead after waiting so long for a federal response to the hurricane, or you’re displaced and living out of a shopping bag with no home to return to. If you’re a blue-collar tradesperson, trying to find work again in the hurricane relief reconstruction effort, chances are you’re earning minimum wage after Bush suspended the Davis-Bacon Act, which would ensure prevailing wages (Bush claimed it was a way to speed development, but it was really a rouse for fucking over workers).

The Privileged

Without a doubt, Bush’s main priority in everything he does and every decision he makes, is to benefit his already-rich political cronies. In both debacles the rich, Republican-led companies were able to profit on multi-million, even multi-billion dollar contracts. And in both debacles, Bush suspended the standard governmental bidding process, opening the door for corruption & profiteering. Of course he claimed it was an effort to speed up the process, but it was really a way to give no-bid contracts to Halliburton, Bechtel, and the like. After all, why should they have to compete like normal companies?


In each debacle the Bush Administration was ill prepared. This is largely because Bush puts absolutely no credence in planning. He doesn’t think about what it would take to accomplish a given result, and makes no attempt to prepare for the tasks to get there. In the Iraq disaster he stormed in with no real plan of how to get beyond the initial invasion, and in New Orleans he repeatedly cut funding that might have secured the levees and preserved the wetlands. It’s impossible to predict if adequate funding to the Gulf region flood-control projects would’ve kept the levees from faulting, but it’s a common opinion that the damage in New Orleans would have been lessened.


We all know how George sat in a classroom for 7 minutes reading “My Pet Goat” as the United States was under attack. We all know how George attacked Iraq to overthrow Saddam Hussein and lied to the American people about how Saddam was harboring WMD’s and had connections to al Qaeda and the 9/11 attack. We all know how George and his henchmen have completely, repeatedly, and utterly bungled the war effort making it colossal disaster for years to come.

Now we know how Bush ignored the hurricane relief effort in the first 4 days after Katrina hit. In that time he was going about his business of politicking, fund-raising, playing guitar, and ignoring Cindy Sheehan. Why the rush anyhow? After all, it was just a couple hundred thousand poor & black people? No need for urgency.

Is this what you would consider the performance of a leader?

Blame & Responsibility

It might have sounded like Bush was “… accepting responsibility…” for the federal government’s incompetence several days after the Katrina hurricane decimated New Orleans. It was a half-hearted, lame attempt to con the American people while his approval ratings sank below the New Orleans toxic sludge. He didn’t really accept responsibility, and certainly has never admitted he did anything wrong. In the Iraq debacle, Bush has never admitted he did anything wrong, even though his rationale for going to war was debunked and subsequently changed… repeatedly. Of course it was never his fault. It was all due to faulty intelligence. Yeah George, you have faulty intelligence. I’ll buy that!

Then there are the people Bush chooses to head up critical tasks. We all know by this point the incompetence of the person Bush put in charge of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Clearly, that lack of ability severely impacted the response and performance of FEMA and the lives of thousands of people. But Brownie did a heck of a job, didn’t he! In Iraq, Bush put Paul Bremer in charge of the Coalition Provision Authority (CPA), which was tasked with transitioning the country between the conclusion of ‘major military operations’, and the handover to the interim government. Before Bremer concluded his assignment, $8.8b was mysteriously missing. It’s fair to judge a person by the people they select and surround themselves with. Look at who Bush has selected and surrounded himself with, and you’ll see incompetence & corruption.


Whether it’s the Iraq or Katrina disasters, nothing has changed on so many levels. Hundreds of billions of dollars will be spent, underprivileged people will get shafted, rich people will get richer, there’ll be massive impact due to a lack of planning & poor decision-making, and neither Bush nor his cronies will ever be at fault as they lie at every juncture.

What has changed? Well, the enemy for one. In the Katrina disaster, the enemy was a mammoth hurricane. Fortunately, Bush can’t declare war on Mother Nature. Then again, since he doesn’t believe in Global Warming and refuses to do anything in an effort to protect the environment, I guess he already has.


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