A little voice-over, please, to set the scene. President Bush asked Congress for $92 billion for his war and an accumulation of Katrina promises. They’ve been thinkin’ it over in the Seante, finger to the wind. $126 billion added thus far and still looking for a strong enough breeze to blow them through the election.
Congress will be off for the summer pretty soon , like school-children, and then . . . well, then the mid-term elections loom. Loom, as in bulk large, tower-over and brood. There’s a regular Wicked witch of the West anger from the provinces, towering and hovering, as Senators Conrad Scarecrow and Trent Lion look to central-casting, hoping for some good lines to get them off-camera.
Montana’s Senator Conrad Burns, always good for a laugh, stuck an additional $4 bil on the already bloated hog-pile. He’s in a sweat to pacify a few Montana ranchers and get their attention away from what he and Jack Abramoff have been doing amongst the Indian tribes. Ranchers and Indians. John Wayne long in his grave and we’re still doing ranchers and Indians. It always plays well in the West.
If Conrad has his way, anyone who works the land in this country is going to be protected from nature. Nature is just so damned inconvenient when you’re in the farming or ranching business. You got drought, flood, wildfire, locusts, ringworm, mad-cow, bark beetle or kidney stones? Conrad’s got the money-truck pulled up, engine idling. In fact, if you don’t actually work the land, if you’re just an investor in those who work, you do even better. Wall Street will get most of the $4 billion and they wouldn’t know a mad-cow from a demented investor.
Conrad’s cut is to sneak by Montana voters in November
The pitch goes on, from Teddy Kennedy to Trent Lott, but you get my drift. If their particular seat isn’t at risk, they’ll pork something up anyway, to help someone whose is.
In the continuing drama between the House and the Senate, it’s always been the Senate that could be depended upon to slam a lid on congressional absurdities. Not this time around. This time it’s Dennis Hastert and John Boehner over on the House side and what a lovely tweak that is. “Dead on arrival,” is the way Hastert characterized the Senate bill, when it gets to the House for reconciliation. "We have no intention of joining in a spending spree." Boehner adds, "Not one dollar more than what the president asks for, period."
That CSX railroad line Trent Lott wants moved back from the edge of the Gulf Coast hasn’t a thing to do with railroading. CSX is happy where they are. They already spent tens of millions of their own dough to repair it and bring it up to standards. Trent doesn’t want an unsightly railroad smack-dab in the middle of his development bonanza. So, he wants you and me to move it.
Not to be left out and just so Northrop Grumman knows Trent is working their side of the pork-barrel, Senator Lott wants you and me to fork over $140 million to pick up some expenses that slipped by their insurance when Katrina visited.
Damn, it’s just such a shame when part of the military-industrial complex has an uninsured loss. Trent thinks you and I have an obligation to step in. He knows it’s a Lott to ask, what with your heating costs off the dial and the garage needing a new roof, but if you can’t bail out your overcharging, racketeering, war-profiteering defense industry, who can you help? Without fixing Northrop’s roof, we might have to actually stop fighting the Vietnams and Iraq Wars. And then what?
Quoting Bert Lahr as the Cowardly Lion:
“Courage! What makes a king out of a slave? Courage! What makes the flag on the mast to wave? Courage! What makes the elephant charge his tusk in the misty mist, or the dusky dusk? What makes the muskrat guard his musk? Courage! What makes the sphinx the seventh wonder? Courage! What makes the dawn come up like thunder? Courage! What makes the Hottentot so hot? What puts the "ape" in apricot? What have they got that I ain’t got?”