Saturday, July 29, 2006

CASE IN POINT - Joe Koester, Councilman Ward 9

“I’m the commander in chief – see, I don’t need to explain – I do not need to explain why I say things. That’s the interesting thing about being the president. Maybe somebody needs to explain to me why they say something, but I don’t feel like I owe anybody an explanation.”
George W. Bush

For those of you who missed 60 Minutes on Sunday, July 10, here’s a little recap: oversight of the spending in Iraq is just about non-existent. Dick Cheney’s old employer has done quite well for itself with no-bid contracts and fleecing us out of millions of dollars. The total amount of money that is left unaccounted for exceeds 700 billion dollars!
I suppose Fox News can somehow frame this story so that things seem rosy, but the rest of the population can only conclude that this administration has enjoyed a rubber-stamp Congress that doesn’t hold the president accountable for squandering huge sums of money making a lot of hand-picked people stinking rich.
Every one of us appreciates our soldiers and salutes them for their sacrifice but we can still disagree with the president on policy. This isn’t about their work – we hold them dear for their noble duty to what has been asked of them.

The simple fact of the matter is, this President’s failed foreign policy and contrived cowboy stance has meant that our country must pay nearly alone in both blood and currency. This didn’t have to be the case – everyone was on our side after terrorist attacks. Think back to the quote coming out of Paris that declared, “We are all New Yorkers now!”

Expeditiously, the President squandered all good-will by ignoring calls for deliberate and well-founded action - sending our soldiers into a war that was on the drawing boards even before he took office. Paul Wolfowitz, Dick Cheney, George Bush, Donald Rumsfeld, and Co. knew what they wanted to do and that was wage war in Iraq. These same characters found ways to get out of the draft back in the day when duty called them, but they have no problem sending our sons and daughters, our brothers and sisters off to fight. Then, having hastily decided to go to war, these same chicken hawks don’t send our soldiers well-prepared, but rather let family and friends finance body armor and steel plating privately. I guess their dream of the privatization of every aspect of life reached new highs or lows depending on one’s perspective.

Furthermore, while our own towns and cities have serious needs, Iraq becomes a financial drain on investment at home. Anyone remember the old school lessons about the fall of Rome? A couple of examples to chew over from recent budgeting:
4.6 billion dollars for Iraqi water and sanitation and 3.1 billion for our own; $290 million for Iraqi first responders and $200 million for our own.

When our pseudo-cowboy president chased away our major allies, he also chased off those who had helped cover the military and financial side of things in past operations.

But wait, Donald Rumsfeld says, we have (increasingly had) many allies making up the “Coalition of the Willing.” Yes, it may be true that South Korea sent 24 soldiers and Lithuania sent a dozen or so, but this touted “Coalition of the Willing” (COW) was meager and left the American taxpayers pretty much paying all the bills and Halliburton and friends decided that they saw a COW, so they might as well milk it for all it’s worth.

From what I could gather from the 60 Minute report, even if a company is fined for fleecing us all, they simply pay a relatively small fine but still keep a nice fat profit.

Where is the outrage? Where is the outcry? 700 billion dollars unaccounted for – money that could have gone to repair our infrastructure, teach our children, help develop alternative energy for our own country, or simply bolstered Social Security for our Baby Boom retirees.

Today, gas was more than $3.00/gallon – oil companies have gotten a pay raise and now it’s time that the American worker does too.

Health care costs are hindering job creation in both the private and pubic realm. When our city sees rising health insurance costs in the double digits every year, it scares us from hiring and likewise, when the manager or business owner sees the same thing, he usually decides to forgo hiring another worker because of these peripheral costs. That 700 billion dollar COW sure could have helped do much here at home but while the corporate buddies of this administration got the milk, the American people were left holding the bucket.