September 17, 2005

Bombs vs Bottled Water

The Washington Post reported today, on its front page, that US strategic planning is "shifting" and that there are "new times in the Pacific." (While this story is important, also, for its warning to the American people that the Bush government is on a collision course with China in the Pacific, that is a story I will address in a future piece.)

Here's the opening paragraph of the story:

ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam -- A dull-gray B-2 bomber sat poised in a typhoon-proof air-conditioned hangar, its bat wings stretching 172 feet across. The bomb bay was fitted for 80 GPS-guided bombs, at 500 pounds each, that could be delivered to any target in Asia within a few hours.

Imagine that. We can spend the money to protect our war-making machines from hurricanes, but we couldn't spend the money to protect the New Orleans levees from hurricanes.

Imagine that. We can drop eighty 500-pound bombs anywhere in Asia within a few hours, but we can't drop bottled water to Americans in New Orleans in a few days.

After 9/11, in return for huge sums of money from the American taxpayer, resulting in the largest federal deficit in history (and it will get a lot bigger), the Bush government created a sprawling new department to defend the motherland; contrived a complex reorganization of our intelligence community; invaded Afghanistan to destroy Al-Queda and the Taliban; and invaded Iraq to defend the world against Saddam's weapons of mass destruction. The Bush government has reassured the American people all along, taking pains to demonstrate a level of preparedness against terror attacks as a result of all of its actions.

The motherland has not been protected, the intelligence community is still in disarray, Al-Queda and the Taliban are resurgent in Afghanistan, and Iraq is a quagmire of immense proportions.

Had New Orleans been a terrorist attack, would the response have been different? Of course, we'll never know. But what we do know is that all the money spent for emergency preparedness by the Bush administration gave us no protection against mother nature. Here's my question to George Bush:

After all we have given you, George, why aren't we any safer than before 9/11? Your military brags about being able to drop bombs anywhere in Asia in a few hours, but why can't you drop bottled water anywhere in America in a few hours?

The Washington Post also reported on its front page a story about Bush warning that to pay for the mammoth costs of Katrina recovery (estimated to be over $200 billion), there will have to be spending cuts elsewhere in the federal budget.

Here's how it is reported:

Amid growing concern among congressional Republicans about the huge cost of the planned reconstruction effort, Bush said the federal government can foot the bill without resorting to a tax increase. "You bet it's going to cost money. But I'm confident we can handle it," Bush said. "It's going to mean that we're going to have to cut unnecessary spending."

He doesn't say where the cuts will be implemented, but I think we can guess where they are not going to occur. It won't be in homeland defense, overseas defense, corporate welfare programs, giveaways to agri-business, intelligence-gathering, defense contractor subsidies and no-bid contracts, or in Congressional pork.

Bush says increasing taxes is out. He won't eliminate his tax cuts for the rich. He won't increase corporate taxes. But Bush said that we will have to cut "unnecessary" government programs. Is he actually admitting that he has approved unnecessary government programs? He did not mention what those "unnecessary" programs are, but I am sure we will find out.

Who will be hurt by Bush spending cuts? It will be the middle class, the working poor, and the unemployed. It will be the African-American community, students, public works programs, health care programs, child care and educational programs, social support programs of every kind. The time is ripe for him to drown that part of the government in the bathtub that he thinks deserves drowning.

I worry that there will come a day when all the government has left to drop on the American people is bombs, because all the water will be gone.

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