September 17, 2005

Pie in the Sky . . . When you Die

Bush: "It will cost what it costs."

So said President Bush on live TV to the nation Thursday evening. He spoke from a hastily arranged podium in flood devastated New Orleans which was illuminated by massive flood lights carted to the site by the White House at great tax payer expense. The surreal castle-like skyline behind Mr. Bush caused many a viewer, including yours truly, to do a double-take and think he was speaking from Disney World in Orlando.

After hearing the speech, I was even more certain the president must be broadcasting from Disney World. Or more specifically, Fantasy Land. His words seemed so divorced from the reality of what he and his administration have been doing to the country for the last five years that I couldn't help but recall the words of an old Wobbly song written by Joe Hill that I learned many years ago. It's a parody of a Salvation Army hymn called "In the Sweet Bye and Bye", and Hill called it "The Preacher and the Slave":

Long-haired preachers come out every night,
Try to tell you what's wrong and what's right;
But when asked how 'bout something to eat
They will answer with voices so sweet:


You will eat, bye and bye,
In that glorious land above the sky;
Work and pray, live on hay,
You'll get pie in the sky when you die.

Bush: "Federal funds will cover the great majority of the costs of repairing public infrastructure in the disaster zone, from roads and bridges to schools and water systems."

Sounds good, right? I mean, who could be against this? However, there's a "Catch-22" that David Heller would be proud of. Speaking for the president the White House was quick to add that taxes would not be raised to pay for the monumental costs of rebuilding the Gulf region and the city of New Orleans. Rather, they intend to cut existing government programs AND they intend to go ahead and further cut taxes. We'll give you one guess which segment of the population these tax cuts are for. And one guess which sacred cow part of the budget will be exempt from government cuts.

Yes, you guessed it, the wealthy top ten percent will get most of the tax cuts and the so-called defense budget, which as everyone should know by now defends nobody, will be largely immune to the budget cutting axe.

Thus, the stage has been set for an unprecedented economic melt-down when the bills for Bush's criminal misadventures in Iraq and the rebuilding of the Gulf have to be paid with constantly shrinking tax revenues.

Bush: "Taxpayers expect this work to be done honestly and wisely, so we will have a team of inspector generals reviewing all expenditures."

What the president left out was the fact that these "inspectors" will be selected by the president himself and Dick Cheney. As will the contractors who do the cleanup. Just as they selected their own corporate supporters like the mega-corporation Halliburton for most of the government contracts in Iraq, and just as they punished anyone in the administration who objected to their unprecedented cronyism or who complained about gross overcharging that reached criminal proportions.

Bush: "It is now clear that a challenge on this scale requires greater federal authority."

After five years in office as head of the federal government, four years post 9/11, and two years after launching an unprovoked invasion on a sovereign nation, the president has finally discovered federal authority. Frankly, I'm speechless after hearing a remark like this. I guess they don't call him "the national moron" for nothing.

Bush: "It was not a normal hurricane."

I'm almost speechless again. But then, this is not a normal president either.

Bush: "We will not just rebuild, we will build higher and better."

Somebody tell the president that building the dikes and levees higher has already been rejected by most experts and even the Army Core of Engineers, and is not a viable solutions to the New Orleans flood problem.

Bush: "It is entrepreneurship that creates jobs and opportunity. It is entrepreneurship that helps break the cycle of poverty, and we will take the side of entrepreneurs as they lead the economic revival of the Gulf region."

Hmmm. Does he mean the same entrepreneurial classes that have historically benefited from poverty, Jim Crow racism, and low wages in the post Civil War South?

Bush: "As all of us saw on television, there is also some deep, persistent poverty in this region as well."

I can hear the president arriving back at the White House and scolding Condi Rice, "But Condi, you told me that your people were living as good as you were, buying $500 pairs of leather boots, rubbing elbows with all the white people, stuff like that. You and Colon never told me we still had all those colored people hanging around collecting government checks."

Bush: "We have a duty to confront this poverty with bold action. So let us restore all that we have cherished from yesterday, and let us rise above the legacy of inequality."

Enter Joe Hill, stage left: And you'll get pie in the sky when you die.


Bush pledges nation's help for Gulf Coast.

Transcript of Bush's New Orleans Speech.