John Tierney, carrying Republican odiousness to a new level in his New York Times column today, plunges over the ethical cliff to close in on the moral free-fall of FEMA director Brown who said the whole problem was that the victims just should have obeyed the evacuation order in the first place. Tierney, proving that a feather will fall just as fast in a moral vacuum as an ingot of pig iron, said (if I may unkindly, but correctly, sum up his column), well, hey, the city should just not have been there in the first place. And since its inhabitants insist on being in a place they should not be, the solution is to have, ahem, private flood insurance. Yes. And, if you can't afford private flood insurance, well, gee, that's too bad. You eat the loss..."if you live," which is the logical end of his repugnant column, but one even a worst-case Republican such as himself, dares not actually write.
Tierney went off in the middle of his repugnant column on how government botches everything. Well, it's true it has botched the war in Iraq pretty badly. Maybe we should confine Tierney's condemnation of "government" to "the Bush regime." That would make sense. The one thing Republicans do supremely well, is push their way to the front of the public trough and get their snouts in and working at the very moment their colleagues and fellow-travelers are sabotaging all the legitimate functions of government, which, of course, precisely include things like--flood control. Tierney, astoundingly, seems to imagine that the Dutch flood control system, which he commends, was built by Walmart rather than by the Dutch government. Sometimes you just have to shake your head about guys like this.
Maureen Dowd, writing in the same day's New York Times, points out that the original New Orleans Corps of Engineers modest $105 million budget request had been reduced to $40 million by the Republicans. But the budget that got passed included a $231 million bridge in Alaska to an uninhabited island, as a reward, of course, to Alaska Republicans. Louisiana's flood control budget, like Louisiana's National Guard, was sent to Iraq. And Alaska, it seems.
Tierney believes government, where it is allowed to exist, should be like fire departments. FEMA in his view is too big. It's true that FEMA has been paralyzed ever since it was folded into the Republican fatherland-security mega-bureaucracy. But during the years before that, FEMA had been doing a very good job, according to all I have read.
The problem, during this disgraceful administration, is that FEMA has been staffed with political hacks. It's director, Michael Brown, is an incompetent political appointee, with no disaster-preparedness background or expertise, or apparently, even any interest in his job. Proof of that is before us now in the sodden ruins of New Orleans and the third-world disaster this administration has allowed it to become. FEMA under Michael Brown and fatherland security director Michael Chertoff, it is now clear, did not actually have a disaster plan. And as Bush may finally discover here, spin is not actually a substitute for a plan.
The problem is not government. The problem is this government. And people like John Tierney. And Brown. And Chertoff. And most of all, and worst of all, George Bush.
Update: I have to add a quote from Lawyers, Guns and Money which sums the whole Republican schtick, and the Tierney's, very nicely. "The Republicans have managed a nifty trick over the last twenty-five years. They have worked ceaselessly to make government less effective, while at the same time deriving political benefit from inadequate government."
I don't think they are gonna make a clean getaway this time. This is too much.