I was in Santa Monica, CA on business a few weeks ago. I took a stroll along Ocean Avenue, a pretty boulevard with upmarket hotels and shops overlooking the Pacific. All you had to do to consider it idyllic was ignore the hundreds of homeless people who camp under the palm trees each sunset in an adjacent park.
But more about that later.
Right now I want to talk about a national malady called Trickledown Incompetence.
All this is old news, but worth repeating:
The Bush administration incompetently started a war, managed by incompetents who couldn’t think ahead five seconds to what they’d do once they blew up half of Iraq. And those incompetent dum-dums never imagined that enraged Iraqis, instead of scattering rose petals at our soldiers’ feet, would be blowing up our guys up with IEDs.
The Bush administration based its decision to go to war in Iraq on incompetent interpretations of incompetent intelligence. It was provided by an incompetent CIA director. Well, it’s true he had to act incompetently or he’d get fired. But you’d figure a competent guy in that position would resign in a huff. He didn’t.
For in-your-face incompetence, there was nothing – and still is nothing two years later – like the “You’re doing a helluva job, Brownie” management of the Hurricane Katrina disaster in New Orleans.
The past couple of days, we’ve been hearing about the deliberate hiring of incompetents in the Justice Department. Monica Goodling, graduate of a fourth or maybe seventh rate religious law school, was in charge of deciding who would or would not be a good local U.S. Attorney. Monica worked for Alberto Gonzales. She’s an – let’s call her what she really is, either a nearly brainless bimbo or a clever but poorly educated liar and career assassin. Well, let’s be kindly and charitable and assume she’s merely a brainless bimbo and not a corrupt and lying thug.
Goodling, that brainless incompetent bimbo, has been testifying before Congress that she, uh, “went over the line” by violating Federal law in her hiring practices. That’s called “lawbreaking” where I come from, folks. But gee, she’s so cute and sweet sounding and blonde, the Republicans on the Senate committee that was taking here testimony tried to give her a pass.
The trouble with incompetence is that it’s like water. It follows the law of gravity. You get an incompetent president and the next thing you know you get an incompetent Secretary of Defense and an incompetent Attorney General below the President.
From them you get incompetent generals and Monica Goodling. Next thing you know, you’re in a restaurant on Ocean Avenue in Santa Monica, CA, suffering through completely incompetent table service.
To get back to where I started, incompetent table service is what happened a few weeks ago. I walked into this nice-looking Italian restaurant on Ocean Avenue. I ordered two courses: a salad and a braised lamb shank.
I stuck a fork into my salad and poof! A sub-waiter who looked as if he came out of a casting call for Fawlty Towers holds a steaming lamb shank literally inches under my nose and says, “Are you ready yet?”
“No," I said politely. "As you can see, I just started my salad.”
The wait-captain ran up to my table and apologized. “I’m sorry sir. He’s new here. I’ll have him take that lamb shank back and bring you a new one when you’re ready.”
I thanked him. I took two more forkfuls of salad. And poof! There was the same sub-waiter again, with the same lamb shank, a little less steamy this time.
“Ready yet, sir?” He asked.
“No no no. I’m still eating my sald. Look. See that stuff on my plate? It’s salad!”
The wait-captain reappeared, at least making an attempt to seem horrified. “I’m sorry,” he said, “some people just don’t listen.”
He hustled the sub-waiter away again and I went back to my salad. Two forkfuls later – you guessed it!
This time I felt myself rising to my feet. I felt my arms waiving wildly in the air. I was about to explode. The only reason I didn’t was, I was afraid I might kill somebody on the waitstaff and then have to get defended by an incompetent lawyer.
The fourth time the lamb shank came (by now a genuinely different one, and steaming again) there was only a little bit of salad left on my plate. I figured, the hell with it. It was either start eating the damn lamb shank or start throwing dishes. I ate the lamb shank before I finished my salad.
Unlike money, which under the Bush Administration trickles up from the poor and middle class to the filthy rich, incompetence always seeks its own level. As the old Italian saying goes, “The fish rots from the head.”
So I blame George Bush for everything. I blame him for the war. I blame him for the nearly incomprehensible size of the national debt. I blame him for the huge economic pressure on the poor and middle class in a time of plenty. I blame him for a still-devastated New Orleans. I blame him for the Justice Department scandal. I blame him for blonde bimbos. I blame him for the hordes of homeless people sleeping in what ought to be one of the most beautiful little parks in California. I blame him for a U.S. Supreme Court that’s starting to make Neanderthal inroads into years of established constitutional law. I blame George Bush for mindless water torturers in secret prisons. I blame him for our failing healthcare system.
And most of all, I blame him for an idiot waiter in a Santa Monica restaurant, shoving a lamb shank in my face, over and over again.
It’s time Congress stiffed Bush with an act of impeachment.