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December 05, 2005


Bird Flu: "When it comes to a pandemic, we are overdue and we are underprepared."

9/11 Panel: "Commission members gave the government 'more F's than A's' among the 41 grades measuring progress on security recommendations they issued last year.

Iraq: "Iraqi Vice President Ghazi al-Yawer disputed contentions by U.S. officials, including President Bush, that the training of security forces was gathering speed, resulting in more professional troops."

I wish I had a government I thought was actually interested in governing.

Posted by john at December 5, 2005 04:37 PM

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Kevin Q | December 5, 2005 05:44 PM

Nah. If Bush Co. was interested in governing and being responsible, then this blog would be all cat-blogging and Athena being cute. And there's enough of that on the web already.


John H | December 5, 2005 06:09 PM

Whenever I think of the lack of governance by this administration it reminds me of Chief Wiggum on The Simpsons: "Move along, folks. There's nothing to... (notices the massive train wreck) Holy Crap!"

Scott | December 5, 2005 07:50 PM

then this blog would be all cat-blogging and Athena being cute

Ahh, you forget him touting his own dangerously explosive and poorly tempered skills. Particularly those involving parenting and camera-work. And the frequent references to his innate, dramatic, and soul-destroying superiority to his wife.

He might also have something to say about something he wrote.

On a more serious note...
Just because the Bushies were interested in governing doesn't mean they'd be good at it... but I agree it would be a nice start.

I wonder what the world would be like if they were interested in doing good, more than they were interested in being remembered for having done good. The last 5 years have marked an increasing awareness (in me) that the two are orthogonal, despite the fact that some people move diagonally along both axes simultaneously.

Don McArthur | December 5, 2005 07:51 PM

Simply re-define governance as "Loot the economic system, remove our wealth from future taxes, grind the faces of everyone else into the dirt" and they're doing, well, fine...

Brian Greenberg | December 6, 2005 05:43 PM

OK, folks - 'fess up: whatever the federal government has done in terms of homeland security has been slammed as "inciting a culture of fear" or "creating excessive bureaucracy." How would you have reacted if they suggested implementing everything in the 9/11 report as written (price tag: $tens of trillions)?

Bird flu: Setting aside the question about whether or not we should maintain a constant state of preparedness for a global pandemic, the fact remains that significant spending on "preparing for bird flu" would have been laughed out of the room (a la the Alaskan "bridge to nowhere") until it became a top story in all the newspapers.

And as for Iraq, if you read the article John linked to, you'll find that Ghazi al-Yawer is actually relatively constructive with his comments, as opposed to the "America-bashing" attitude many may assume from John's quote (or maybe that's just me?). Ghazi al-Yawer agrees that the US cannot pull out of Iraq now ("there will be a huge vacuum"), he opposes the establishment of a timetable for withdrawl or drawdown, and he blames internal Iraqi politics (not US policies) for the difficulties the army is facing. The article also talks about what he is doing to rectify these problems. Kind of like an actual government official, huh?

I don't think the problem in this case is the government not being interested in governing, I think the problem is an electorate who is not interested in anything that isn't repeatedly put in front of them in 20-point font or larger.

John Scalzi | December 6, 2005 05:57 PM

That's crap, Brian. Positing that people trying to implement policy would be "laughed out of the room" is not an excuse for the administration either doing nothing or doing it poorly (thereby "inciting a culture of fear").

I certainly agree that in the story the Iraqi VP seems serious and realistic in his assessment of Iraqi capabilities. Would that our President and his administration would be likewise.

Brian Greenberg | December 7, 2005 12:52 PM

That's crap, Brian. Positing that people trying to implement policy would be "laughed out of the room" is not an excuse for the administration either doing nothing or doing it poorly (thereby "inciting a culture of fear").

Sorry, I disagree. History is replete with examples of serious problems that no one solved because it wasn't politically expedient to solve them. In the present/recent past alone, we have social security, healthcare, energy policy, terrorism, and gulf coast flooding.


-- According to the 9/11 report, Clinton has 4 shots at bin Laden, but only took two of them. In the other two cases, he was afraid of public reaction (both here and in the Arab world) and/or his military leaders decided it wasn't worth the risk. And even when he did attack, basically no one cared or noticed (except to claim that he was doing it to cover up his impeachment proceedings).

-- Social Security has been the "third rail of politics" for as long as I can remember (and possibly for as long as I've been alive). Bush made a big deal about it last year. Where is it now? No longer a problem? Doubtful. More likely, there are other things in the news now, so any discussion on social security reform would be quickly squashed.

-- Healthcare has been out there forever - Hillary tried to solve it & failed famously in 1992. It's been 13 years, and no one's tried anything significant since. Why?

-- As we've discussed in these pages, the situation in New Orleans was identified as a catastrophe waiting to happen since the 1950's. When Hurricane Andrew hit Florida in 1992, we threw some money at New Orleans, but forgot all about it by 1993-1994. Again, why?

This isn't a Bush good/Bush bad discussion - picture any President proposing that we need to spend billions on vaccines for bird flu, before anyone in the country had heard the term.

He might as well be asking for funding to defend against alien stun guns (note to self: leave the SF references to John from now on). At best, the program would be cut out in some congressional deal making, at worst it would be political suicide - the other side would run the easy attack ad: "our schools are failing and wants to spend your tax dollars on bird flu vaccines!!"

A very small minority of us know or care about the serious details of governing. Sometimes, we get what we deserve.

John Scalzi | December 7, 2005 04:28 PM

Brian Greenberg:

"History is replete with examples of serious problems that no one solved because it wasn't politically expedient to solve them."

And? Leaving aside the issue of whether the failures of previous administrations should justify the failures of the current one, let's also note that Bush has based his administration -- and received support for his administration -- based on addressing the security of the US, which all these things are directly or tangentially related.

If the president goes about suggesting we are safer thanks to actions of his administration, we shouldn't look at the manifest failures of his administration in these areas and shrug them off.

Brian Greenberg | December 7, 2005 04:55 PM

I don't think we're disagreeing here, John. I'm just saying that when a system produces the same result over and over again, it gets harder to call that result a failure.

As long as politicians are constantly running for re-election, and consumers consistently respond to salacious news stories that paint every government official as a purveyor of evil, I think it's more accurate to say that our system is simply incapable of solving certain problems.

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