U.S. Scrambles to Address International Food Crisis
By Dan Eggen Washington Post Staff Writer Saturday, April 26, 2008; A03
The Bush administration and Congress have been caught flat-footed by rapidly escalating global food prices and are scrambling to respond to a crisis that they increasingly view as a threat to U.S. national security, according to government officials, congressional staffers and human rights experts.
. . . Overall, the U.N. agency needs about $800 million in emergency funding to reach its annual goal of feeding 78 million people, and that does not account for additional waves of people being plunged into poverty by the rising prices, Parmelee said.
Last week, the Bush administration released $200 million worth of wheat . . .
So, let's see. That $800 million is about--what?--half a day's Iraq war funding? Plans Wilt at National Arboretum Proposed Funding Cut Exacerbates Deterioration
By Adrian Higgins Washington Post Staff Writer Saturday, April 26, 2008; A01
It began last weekend and will continue for five more, Washington's other springtime blossom festival. At the U.S. National Arboretum in Northeast Washington, 130,000 people will show up to luxuriate in the rhododendrons, crab apples and early roses before Memorial Day.
. . . Next year's proposed budget for the federally funded institution has been cut by $2 million, targeted at the arboretum's public face. The amount is small in the scheme of things, but it would reduce funding by 60 percent for the arboretum's public programming and the care of its rich garden displays and pioneering plant collections.
This comes after almost a decade of funding erosion: The operating budget has shrunk 20 percent in five years. . .
That, good friends and enthusiastic readers--is about two minutes of war funding. Fending off criticism of taking cheap-shots at this administration's monetary agenda, I bring these examples to bear simply because they are adjacent headlines in today's newspaper. Nero merely fiddled while Rome burned. Nancy Pelosi's and Harry Reid's long-awaited and much heralded Democratic majority in the Congress has the nerve to masturbate while their country and the world sinks to its knees. Who cares if the National Arboretum goes to hell and food-riots inform the streets in Egypt and Haiti, the Philippines and Indonesia? It's only trees, shrubs and hungry foreigners. The Bush mentality is I'll be outta here in nine months and my war is more important. For a half century, while armaments have sucked the oxygen from all other rational, national investment, we have
Wrecked the world's finest industrial base
Failed to maintain our sewer systems, bridges, highways, national parks and monuments
Offshored our middle-class American job base
Destroyed K-12 education
and happily agreed to the Wal-Marting of now abandoned Main Street
Half a century encompasses a whole lot more administrative delinquency than can be laid at George Bush's door. Kennedy and Johnson, Nixon and Ford, Carter and Reagan, Bush-the-father and Clinton all had their oar in the water as America became increasingly negligent of its priorities. Pelosi and Reid failed their 2006 promise, so we have a 2008 promise that has thus-far mired itself in the theater of tossed-back whiskeys and accusations of elitism or whose history holds the more dishonorable ghosts. And we love theater. Our past history, present dilemmas and future greatness or decline have all been reduced to theater--an American Idol of the American Ideal. We are not deserving of holding this administration--the most law-breaking in our considerably law-broken history--to the terms and conditions of constitutional authority, because Pelosi and Reid are afraid that single act of American conscience will detract from the theater of the 2008 election. A thousand Iraq-Afghan war veterans a month attempting suicide and there are no demonstrations in front of the White House. Why? Because they are reservists. They are not our sons and daughters, but other people's sons and daughters and they have been made invisible. These draft-evaders in power have made our 12,000 annual vet suicide attempts invisible, at the same time they bankrupt the nation in their own failed vision of world democracy. Cheney and Bush, Pelosi and Reid, McCain, Clinton and Obama have pissed away the promise of their country, traded away democracy at home--for what? The answer is blowing in the wind.