Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Think of the Savings! 

We had planned, upon returning from last night's Valentine's Day festivities (and what are the odds of accidentally hitting a 78-year-old bystander smack in the face with a champagne cork? Not once, but twice? The second time, of course, we had an excuse, because we'd already killed off the first bottle of La Grande Dame. And we tried for a third time, in accordance with the Dramatist's Rule, but by that point our aim had been hopelessly compromised and we managed only to bean an innocent busboy), to complete a post we had begun earlier in the day, one inspired by an instructive juxtaposition we had noticed in that morning's S.F. Chronicle. Could any blogger ask for a better friend than the wit in the layout department who positioned

"No Room Left at the Inn for Katrina Victims,"

another story about displaced families whose FEMA housing assistance payments have expired, directly alongside

"Bush P.R. Costs Taxpayers $1.6 Billion,"

about federal cash paid to flacks to help rally support for the Iraq debacle, boost flagging army recruitment numbers, and warn the sickly off those nasty prescription drugs they sell so cheaply (for a reason! for a reason!) in Canada? We ourselves would not presume to ask for a better friend than that.

But as we were repeatedly dunking our head into a bucket of ice water to shake off the rage-dulling effects of the Veuve Clicquot, we were overcome by a fugitive urge to visit the Burley-que, and when we did we discovered (not for the first time) that our beloved colleague Chris Floyd, damn his miserable eyes, had already written the post we intended to write -- and with considerably more eloquence than we, as great believers in the lowest common denominator, would normally undertake to deploy. For the P.R. story above, please note, Mr. Floyd substitutes another, equally damning specimen of well-raked muck entitled "Royalty Plan to Give Windfall to Oil Companies":
[And then the actual main point of the piece, which the NYT has buried – literally – at the very bottom of a 1,700-word story, a sentence that in a normal world would have been blazing its truth like a signal-fire on the top of the story]: "If that view prevails, the government said it would lose a total of nearly $35 billion in [oil-company] royalties to taxpayers by 2011 — about the same amount that Mr. Bush is proposing to cut from Medicare, Medicaid and child support enforcement programs over the same period." [End excerpt.]

Contrast the tender, loving care shown to the oil barons, who are now pocketing the largest profits in corporate history, to the situation of those who were displaced and dispossessed by Hurricane Katrina, and now must suffer the second storm – the disdainful, gale-force incompetence of the Bush Faction, whose "rebuilding" of New Orleans is showing eerie parallels to the "reconstruction" of Iraq: porkfests for the politically connected, shards and splinters for the poor . . . .

[And here's your compassionate conservatism in action]: "Donna Lee, 44, said she had also taken an apartment in Houston, but on Christmas Eve someone knocked on the door. Her 28-year-old son, the one who had kicked a hole through the roof to pull her out of rising water in New Orleans East, answered it, and the caller fatally shot him. She returned to New Orleans to bury her son, bringing his children with her. 'I just don't want to go back there,' Ms. Lee said. But, she said, FEMA had denied her hotel extension." [Yes, isn't that just what Jesus would do?]
In an update, Mr. Floyd cites another article with the title "Bush Budget Would Cut Popular Health Programs":
The Bush Faction's naked, brutal contempt toward the well-being of ordinary Americans is truly breathtaking: they literally want to cut off your grandmother's defibrillator and let her die, just to give the crony class another $70 billion in tax breaks – and to goose the obscene, insane level of war-profiteering from the continuing bloodbath in Iraq. Once again, the true priorities of this rapacious, ruthless gang of moral cretins stand exposed to the world. And once again, such exposure will not make a bit of difference: the media will report briefly, then move on; a few Democrats will bleat briefly, and do nothing; and millions of those whose own loved ones will endure genuine suffering from these cruel cuts will dutifully troop to the polls in 2006 and 2008 to vote for Faction front-men.

From the Washington Post: "If enacted, the 2007 budget would eliminate federal programs that support inner-city Indian health clinics, defibrillators in rural areas, an educational campaign about Alzheimer's disease, centers for traumatic brain injuries, and a nationwide registry for Lou Gehrig's disease. It would cut close to $1 billion in health care grants to states and would kill the entire budget of the Christopher and Dana Reeve Paralysis Resource Center."
We cannot much improve on Mr. Floyd's cogent analysis of the increasingly vestigial element of compassion in compassionate conservatism, but if you do not yet feel that the case has been made, we can point to one compelling piece of supporting evidence:
The Bush administration is taking steps to limit costs associated with a benefits program for Cold War-era nuclear workers who developed cancer from radiation exposure, according to a White House document . . . .

The document, obtained by The Associated Press, was written by White House budget officials and sent to the Labor Department.

It commends Labor officials for "identifying the potential for a large expansion" of a program aimed at compensating thousands of nuclear workers. Then, it states that the White House will lead an interagency working group to develop ways "to contain growth in the costs of benefits" the program provides.

The working group will discuss whether "administration clearance" should be required before groups of workers are deemed eligible for compensation, the document said. Under the program, created by Congress five years ago, workers get $150,000 plus future medical benefits.

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