The Random Ruminations and Observations of a Curmudgeon

30 September 2005

Businessmen, Money and Republican Scandal

The Republican Party prides itself on being the party friendly to business.  It seems to draw a fair number of grubby businessmen into its ranks, notable Cunningham and DeLay, and perhaps Abramoff and others.  These guys are characterized by their early years spent finding an angle to earn a buck.  They seem to never lose that mindset.  They seem to get sucked into the maelstrom of petty thievery and chicanery with a wink.  When these small minded businessmen hit the big time, they continue their small minded tactics with the big money.  One can even point to Whitewater, as misplaced as the accusation was, fitting into the framework used by the Republicans.  I can see some Republican saying that Whitewater was something he’d have done, so the Clintons must have done it.

On the other hand, the patricians seem to limit themselves to slippery stock manipulation.  Cases in point are Bush and Frist.  I don’t remember any of the patrician Democrats being involved in money scandals.  One sees LBJ wallowing in slime, but not John Kerry.  

Just an observation.

26 September 2005

Inconsistencies and Neglect: The Reality of Abortion Politics

A spectacular post  about abortion.

23 September 2005

The Real World

Is it just me, or is the right adrift in this sea of reality?  All except Lindsey Graham, who seems to erupt occasionally sensible prose.

20 September 2005

Experience vs. Competence

The left wing blogosphere has grasped a position that I find untenable, although it is convenient.  They are confusing the question of competence with experience.  The Michael Brown case illustrates the misdirected focus.  Brown headed an agency that required administrative skill, organization and leadership.  To function properly the agency needed to be staffed with competent professionals.  In fact, the professional staff had withered and Brown was an incompetent administrator.  Being an emergency response professional had nothing to do with it.  James Lee Witt had run an emergency response agency in Arkansas.  He was no less a crony than Brown, but he was a competent crony.  

Few administrators of agencies are professionals in the field.  The EPA has seldom had an administrator that had qualifications in environmental sciences, although they may have had experience in administering an agency.

Another short example.  He may have been a political hack, but Tom Ridge had administrative experience as governor of Pennsylvania that appears to have been useful in the Department of Homeland Security.   Michael Chertoff had none.  When it came time to make a decision, Chertoff froze.  I think Ridge would have responded better.

The newest outrage is the proposed appointment of Julie Myers to a position at Immigration.  She is a political hack, to be sure.  Whether she is competent is unknown.   Her lack of immigration background may not be of concern, if her role at Immigration is largely administrative.  Nor is a background in immigration a guarantee of success.  What we do know is that most of these appointments are disasters.  The criteria for choosing these folks seems not to include potential for actually being able to do the job.  

George Bush has a history of appointing incompetent, or worse, individuals to high positions.   Those who are not fully incompetent, often quit in frustration.  As ideology overcomes function, professionals quit because their skills are not being used (cf. Treasury) or are being misused.  

In the last election those of us who supported Kerry had faith that he could succeed in one of the most difficult administrative jobs in the world, yet he had no experience as an administrator.  We had, as his opponent, a man who had demonstrated a lack of ability in that job, yet he had been governor of Texas and had paper credentials.  Bush’s ideological stance superseded his demonstrable incompetence (and arrogance and ________[Fill the blank(s)]).  

The problem is that many Bush appointees view their job as Beauty Queen positions.  Their responsibilities are to rule and attend photo ops.  They have never been held responsible for making their agencies functional from top to bottom.  They are not hired to get the work done.  Katrina (and 9/11 and the Iraqi reconstruction) revealed this.  It is tragic.


09 September 2005

Lateness Saved Lives

Which reminds me..current commentaries indicate that fewer bodies may be found. Watch how the possible lowered death toll will be spun into a rationale for the late federal response.

Searching for a Parallel Universe

What would Al Gore have done if confronted with the memo, “Bin Laden Determined to Attack in U.S.”  We’ll never know.  How would he have dealt with 9/11?  We’ll never know.  How would he or John Kerry have reacted to Hurricane Katrina?  Again we’ll never know.  We know how George Bush dealt with the memo, the attack and the natural disaster.  These examples, much like tax cuts and the war in Iraq, suffer from not having a parallel universe in which alternate scenarios are allowed and comparisons can be made.  

The Republicans have figured how to forge even disaster into polemical success.  Every small positive is used to glorify the policy.  No matter that Iraqis are dying, electricity is scarce and theocracy is imminent, we have liberated $25M people.  They define the end points, pound those points, find a scapegoat, and broach no argument, finger-pointing or “blame game”.

Is this country better off than on January 19, 2001?  No?  And whose fault is it?

But I have descended into the cult of GWB and the temple of the true believers..

My apologies.

08 September 2005

This Administration Ignores Suggestions

In the fancy free world of rude commentary, we have as one of today’s entries this episode from Gulfport, Mississippi, wherein Mr. Cheney’s lack of eloquence with Mr. Leahy is thrust back at him. Aside from the fact that Jim Cantore's’ presence doomed Gulfport to be the epicenter of Hurricane Katrina’s landfall, the town has suffered from the inefficiencies of response represented so sensitively by Mr. Cheney.

Methinks that if one expresses the sentiment, one should supply the implement most appropriate for the action. In Mr. Cheney’s case, however, it is acceptable to neglect to supply the lubricant.

Police State Run By Jack-booted Thugs

"At first the evidence was scattered and anecdotal. But now it's pretty clear that a key aim of the Bush administration's takeover of the NOLA situation is to cut off press access to report the story. “

“In the wake of what the Wall Street Journal projected may be the most expensive natural disaster in American history, the Republican Leadership in the House of Representatives limited floor consideration of the $52 billion Katrina relief bill proposed by President Bush and voted to reject any Democratic efforts to amend the bill to include a wider array of relief measures, RAW STORY has learned.”

And also Arbeit Macht Frei. Gilliard says, "These aren't Vietnamese or Hmong, but American citizens. The racism in FEMA's ops, and their cowardice, go hand in hand. It is amazing."

It is becoming less amazing every day

07 September 2005

Sadly, Yes

I couldn’t resist.

Powerline: The ability to produce 100,000 gallons of fresh bullshit a day. And they're always deployed.

A Foul Wind Blows

Although the hurricane has passed, the wind still blows in New Orleans.   Sometimes clarity is lost as the flotsam and jetsam of recrimination flies by, but a number of things are clear:

  1. The city of New Orleans was under-prepared for the flooding.  A failure, but realistically, cities on tight budgets will never mobilize adequately for “what ifs”.  

  2. The state of Louisiana had responsibilities in many places other than N.O. and perhaps did not respond as well as they should.  This is difficult for me to assess.

  3. The federal government has a long history of disaster response.  People expect it.  The response from FEMA and other federal agencies was slow, inadequate and inefficient.  The depth of indifference of this administration to the mission of FEMA is incomprehensible.  

  4. The Department of Homeland Security is primarily a public relations outfit with a secondary mission to establish an improved police state.  It has successfully inconvenienced those of us not at risk and failed to save those at risk.  

  5. Emergency response should not be under the purview of DHS.  DHS should focus on prevention…keep in a terrorist attack, will they be more concerned with emergency response or covering their failed ass for letting it happen?

And now we have the Bushies investigating themselves.  Isn’t that special.  I will be especially interested in Michael Brown’s future.  Bush has been reluctant to fire out-of-the-closet incompetents; he either transfers them (John Bolton) or gives them medals (George Tenet).  I’m betting a transfer.

Don’t get me started on John Roberts as chief justice.  Some blog-wag called him a political hack and the phrase came to mind as we look at the staffing at FEMA (and DHS).  Is anyone in this government not a political hack?  I know, a rhetorical question.

01 September 2005

Response New Orleans

Everyone has had something to say about New Orleans and the Gulf Coast.  I am as stunned as anyone.  I hope bloggers, and others far more savvy than I, are able to make the necessary connections with those Americans who still use their cognitive functions and establish the links from this disaster to the policies of George Bush.   Tax cuts, war, environmental neglect (if not antagonism) and neglect of emergency response.  I will do the following in bold:

It is four years after 9/11 and uncounted millions have been spent on homeland security…but THIS is the level of competence of our emergency response capability?

If you ask me, GWB has some serious ‘splainin’ to do.  I wonder if there’s a Democrat alive (aside from Mary Landrieux) who’ll demand it.

I want to see, at the very least, the “What if the levee or a canal wall gets breached?” emergency plan.

An extraordinary natural horror that has occurred.  It is unconscionable that human ignorance, arrogance and incompetence have compounded it.