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From It Affects You

During his testimony to the congressional whitewash panel on Katrina, Brownie got right down to the heart of the problem:

"It is inherently impractical, totally impractical, for the federal government to respond to every disaster of whatever size in every community across the country."

Forget for the moment Brownie's specific incompetence (though it is great) and forget for the moment he's accepting some responsibility primarily by blaming others.  (He said he should have recognized Blanco and Nagin were not getting the job done and stepped up himself, for example.)  Forget for a moment the specific incompetence of the Bush administration (though it, too, is great.)  Brownie's quote gets right to the philosophy which pervades conservative thinking, and which is really at the heart of the failed preparations and response.

Katrina was not, of course, some small disaster effecting one or two communities across the country.  It was likely the worst natural disaster in the history of the United States.  It's an argument for a responsible government - before, during and after - if there ever was one.  Hearing Brownie express disdain for the very job function of the agency he headed gets at the larger problem which most of what we witnessed springs from - modern conservatism itself.

The Katrina disaster did not simply expose incompetence at high levels of government.  It did that in spades, to be sure, but it exposed a great deal more.  Bush didn't fill key positions at agencies critical to the safety of Americans with cronies strictly because he's part of a corrupt system.  He was able to do it with relative ease because Conservatives do not take these agencies seriously.  In the modern conservative view, it's not the role of the federal government to provide disaster relief, so it's not any sort of controversy to appoint a clearly under-qualified individual to head the agency assigned to respond to disasters.  It's not the role of the federal government to oversee health care issues, so there's nothing wrong with placing a veterinarian in charge of women's health at the FDA.

Politically, they could not cut cut these programs, but that does not mean they need to take them seriously.  If you don't value these programs, if you don't believe their missions are any business of the federal government's, then you don't really care about the qualifications of the people you appoint.  These are useless, wasteful programs which can't be cut, so they might as well be used to reward supporters.  So what if key government programs are undermined?  They're not worthwhile to begin with. This is not a surprising development, and perhaps even an inevitable one, of the modern conservative takeover of government.

We can try to fix the problems on the ground - which we must - but we cannot let it end there.  We have an incompetent conservative administration in the White House and mostly incompetent conservative leadership in congress.  That made matters worse, but it did not create the problems.  The real problem is modern conservatism itself.

From It Affects You

Originally posted to up2date on Tue Sep 27, 2005 at 11:20 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  It's conservatism, (4.00)
    stupid.

    If you like this comment, please visit It Affects You -- Ross

    by up2date on Tue Sep 27, 2005 at 11:20:08 AM PDT

  •  Welcome to Dkos, Mr. Chertoff (none)

    "We must all hang together or assuredly we will all hang seperately." - Ben Franklin

    by RandyMI on Tue Sep 27, 2005 at 11:24:44 AM PDT

  •  Just a small disaster (none)
    I love when they invent new terms like this.

    Small disaster.
    Catastrophic success.

    Orwell would be proud.

  •  Very clearly and well written. (none)
    Good job, and recommended!  Thanks, up2date.
  •  This is what I don't get about Conservatism (4.00)
    How can 'conservatives' justify the astronomical expenses we outlay on defense if they feel it is not the goverment's job to protect its citizenry?

    How is protecting people on the gulf coast from the effects and after-effects of catastrophic hurricanes any different from protecting them from armed invasion?

    Why are our dollars rightly spent to prevent and/or minimize the effects of acts of war, but not acts of God?

    Of course, the answer is that we do not have a 'conservative' government, nor are Republicans truly 'conservative'.

    What we have is what the conservative Eisenhower feared we would have--A government beholden to the military-industrial complex.

    I carried water for the elephant; Back and forth to the well I went; My arms got sore and my back got bent; But I couldn't fill up that elephant

    by Sylvester McMonkey Mcbean on Tue Sep 27, 2005 at 11:37:44 AM PDT

    •  They truly feel it's the government's job to... (none)
      ...protect ME and people like ME. But as for YOU, you can go Cheney yourself.

      That is the heart of conservatism: It's all about me, so screw you.

      If the Republicans stay in power much longer, An Army of One isn't going to be just a slogan.

      Edwards/Clark 2008

      by MeanBoneII on Tue Sep 27, 2005 at 11:45:30 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  it exposes an attitude.... (none)
    depend on charities, don't encourage the people to expect us to help, etc.

    But, this will not fly.  Not as long as they see US assets being used to help in humanitarian efforts around the world, etc.  Or, their whole basis now for being in Iraq is humanitarian, and they will never get away with saying we'll do it for the Iraqi people but not for you, in New Orleans, or Biloxi.

    This will never fly with the people.

    "For the Mardi Gras
    Neo-con domestic shock and awe.."--Rep. Major Owens

    by Cathy on Tue Sep 27, 2005 at 11:39:46 AM PDT

    •  I remain unconvinced (none)
      that "depending on charities" is anything other than a slogan.  I think that for many conservatives, the same thinking which leads them to the position that it is not government's job to "give handouts to the poor" will stop many of them from "giving handouts to the poor."

      If you like this comment, please visit It Affects You -- Ross

      by up2date on Tue Sep 27, 2005 at 11:42:45 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Right, but that's how they rationalize things. (none)
        They justify their "I've got mine, so to hell with you" attitudes by talking about how much they give to charity. It's just another way to promote their self-importance and superiority in their own minds. "Those people don't deserve it, so the government shouldn't give MY money to THEM. But I might give 'em a couple bucks, even though they don't deserve it, because I'm such a good person."

        If the Republicans stay in power much longer, An Army of One isn't going to be just a slogan.

        Edwards/Clark 2008

        by MeanBoneII on Tue Sep 27, 2005 at 11:51:01 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  yes, because it makes the poor burdensome.... (none)
        villians.  

        "For the Mardi Gras
        Neo-con domestic shock and awe.."--Rep. Major Owens

        by Cathy on Tue Sep 27, 2005 at 11:51:41 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Sully points out David Brooks' admission (4.00)
    Sullivan obviously agrees with Brooks over here:

    "Sometimes in my dark moments, I think [George W. Bush] is 'The Manchurian Candidate' designed to discredit all the ideas I believe in." - David Brooks, on Meet The Press, Sunday.

    Funny (in a sad, pathetic way) that neither Brooks nor Sullivan get it: Bush is the EMBODIMENT of the ideas they believe in, fully brought to life and totally revealed in their self-centered, self-satisifed, self-righteous corruption. New Orleans is the capital of their "ownership society."

    If the Republicans stay in power much longer, An Army of One isn't going to be just a slogan.

    Edwards/Clark 2008

    by MeanBoneII on Tue Sep 27, 2005 at 11:42:06 AM PDT

    •  Excellent point (none)
      Bush is incompetent, no doubt, but as you write how much of a difference has that really made?  Just as many are trying to make Brownie the fall guy for this mess, it wouldn't surprise me to see conservatives eventually try to make Bush the fall guy for their failure.  It is much more palatable for them to blame Bush than realize it was a failure of conservatism itself

      If you like this comment, please visit It Affects You -- Ross

      by up2date on Tue Sep 27, 2005 at 11:49:20 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I especially liked your observation that (none)
      "New Orleans is the capital of their 'ownership society'" since it is the perfect visual representation of the "you are on your own" principle found in conservative politics.

      "I don't reject conservatism because it is followed by conservatives, I reject poor thinking, which conservatives seem especially expert at."

      by dicta on Tue Sep 27, 2005 at 12:02:15 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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