Duct-Tape Monsters | News | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly

Duct-Tape Monsters 

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Tax cuts for the rich, cash for the victims, tequila for my men, whiskey for the horses.


We had just eclipsed the fourth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks when Hurricane Katrina exposed the Bush administration’s philosophy that can best be described as “compassionate incompetence.” How else can you explain putting Karl Rove in charge of the Gulf Coast reconstruction effort? Dumping “Brownie”for “Turd Blossom” is more evidence that “W” has learned nothing from any of this.


All I have heard for the past week is politician after politician'along with the army of right-wing radio administration apologists'bleating, “It’s no time to play the blame game.” Here’s a newsflash: This isn’t a game, and it’s time we look long and hard at our screwed-up system. There is plenty of blame to go around without respect to political party or position. Gov. Kathleen Blanco of Louisiana was clearly in over her head and proved she couldn’t lead a Girl Scout troop. New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin couldn’t find anybody who worked for the city, and, worst of all, the Department of Homeland Security, which houses FEMA, couldn’t secure a gym locker. This is the same agency that told us some time back we should stock up on plastic sheeting and duct tape to ward off chemical and biological attacks from terrorists.


Back then we had a guy running Homeland Security who at least looked the part. Tom Ridge had the look of a cartoon superhero, with the broad shoulders and chiseled chin of Dick Tracy. Now we discover that the duct-tape-and-Visqueen fiasco in 2003 was the brainchild of brand-new FEMA director David Paulison, whom Bush named to replace “Brownie,” the horse whisperer he shoved off the cliff. This, from the organization that gave us the “Rainbow of Fear” color-coding system. The administration used it successfully to keep the electorate off balance and afraid of its shadow, campaigning that Bush was the only one who could save us from the Duct Tape Monsters.


This administration has done to our fiscal landscape what Katrina did to Gulf Coast landscape. Four years after 9/11 we are just now finding out that the federal government’s Small Business Administration provided $5 billion in loans to help businesses affected by 9/11. Thanks to The Associated Press, we find the money has gone to every conceivable business in the country that had the chutzpah to apply. Some 19,000 businesses all told dipped their beak in the federal trough.


Now in another example of knee-jerk spending, Congress has approved $60 billion to hurricane-ravaged areas without any more accountability than the SBA fiasco. Where do I apply? Then we had the ill-conceived $2,000 debit-card program. Some of the debit cards were used to buy Louis Vuitton purses and other luxury items'not exactly what they were intended for.


What we have learned this time around is that we can depend only on ourselves. The military and civilian emergency personnel were magnificent and heroic in their tireless efforts to rescue people, save lives and care for the sick and injured. Americans make this the greatest country on earth, not politicians. Police, fire, medical personnel, search and rescue teams from around the country responded and went into action without waiting for some bureaucrat to shuffle papers or finish reading My Pet Goat to first-graders.

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Tom Barberi

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