Thursday, February 09, 2006

Three Stooges of the Apocalypse:
'Let's Roll Over!'

Delving once again into the traditional blogger's domain, I am compelled to comment on a bracing trio of headlines tonight:

Paper: White House Knew About Levees Early

Libby: White House 'Superiors' OK'd Leaks

Abramoff says he met Bush "almost a dozen" times

The cheer these items brought me gave way within seconds to resignation that neither the toothless press nor the all too loyal opposition will be able or willing to put the President's feet to the fire. Even so, it's a little thrilling to see so many of the lies unraveling at once. The Three Stooges of the Apocalypse -- Scooter and Brownie and Abramoff -- all look ready to roll over on the powers that be that hung them out to dry.

Yeah, but so what. It's not like W did anything really bad, like lie about sex.

No Program Left Alive

Speaking of bad things W wants, here's a handy list of all 141 programs he proposes to cut or end in the 2007 budget. I know you won't bother to click -- though it really is a fascinating list -- so we'll just look at a few here, OK?

This one seems well-timed: W wants to end a $75 million program of "Watershed protection and flood prevention operations." Gee, that sounds like a useless chunk of pork just months after Katrina, Rita, and Wilma! Way to go! It's that bold, contrarian thinking that separates the very rich from you and I. That, and private helicopters, multiple homes, and reinforced bunkers.

The USDA's own Natural Resources Conservation Service says:
    Local communities, with USDA [NRCS] assistance, have constructed over 11,000 dams in 47 states since 1948. Many of these dams are nearing the end of their 50-year design life. Rehabilitation of these dams is needed to address critical public health and safety issues in these communities.
Mississippi alone needs $34 million to repair or rebuild 84 dams that pose threats to downstream residents, according to the NRCS.

Speaking of the Mississippi and other things so high you can't get over them and so low you can't get under them, the $3.468 billion of education cuts are astonishingly broad and deep.

Now, I can see why W might want to cut a $9 million program to promote educational "Exchanges with Historic Whaling and Trading Partners." He's against whaling. And he doesn't give a shit about Eskimos. It's that simple. And I guess the $32 million "Alcohol abuse reduction" thing just gets him down. And who needs to spend $35 million a year on "Arts in Education"? Don't we have enough fags already?

But it's not all bad. W must have figured out that the $145 million currently being squandered on something called "Talent Search" could be ponied up by his Private Sector Pals. Dunno about you, but I'd sure like to see GOP boosters Shannen Doherty and Ted Nugent co-hosting that reality show. Get it? They could even use the same name! And darn it if Sith Lord Rupe couldn't find a timeslot for those kids to strut their talented stuff. Like, hey! My oligarch's got a barn!

But then you get the scarily short-sighted reductions, like the $272 million coming out of "Educational Technology State Grants." You don't need me to tell you that
    By the time U.S. students reach their senior year of high school, they rank below their counterparts in 17 other countries in math and science literacy.
No, you could have learned that yourself by reading the Third International Mathematics and Science Study (1996-97) ... or just seen that stat in an old BusinessWeek, like I did. We can't outsource everything. Uh, right? Well, no biggie. Kids today, they got more technology than they need, what with the videogames, and the iPods, and the PSPs and the Xboxes and, uh, the TV sets. No need to spend a quarter billion making sure they know how to work the keyboards.

Having tutored inner-city kids whose overworked, underfunded teachers have clearly Left a Few Children Behind, I can state the obvious, as usual, and say it's not like public schools are rolling in dough. Maybe a courageous band of rebel senators will mount some opposition to these cuts. Uh, right. No matter what they salvage, I sense this will all end badly for public schools, no matter what.

But this is America, and we're a can-do nation. If you don't agree with W's education cuts, no problem. Just send your kids to private school. If it was good enough for the President, it's good enough for your children.


No comments: