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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Take an act of kindness...

... and reimburse it. I'm surprised this one hasn't raised more hackles. So better getting to it late than not at all.

Those fabulous folks at FEMA think it is appropriate to spend federal taxpayer dollars to reimburse faith-based groups for the work they did and are doing after Katrina. So not only is it an act of kindness, it is an act of hard-headed business.

Forgive me for being old-fashioned but isn't kindness supposed to be its own reward? And yes, I know, some of us are also motivated by the chance to shave a few bucks off our own taxes with a charitable deduction.

While I disagree with the underlying message of many faith-based groups and I firmly believe that proselytizing should not accompany the blanket and the soup, I applaud the mission these groups take on it times of devastation. It was especially necessary during Katrina, where FEMA proved to be unconscionably inept.

But to reimburse groups for doing the mission they have raised charitable funds for -- and would do regardless of federal largesse -- in a word, stinks. And what a surprise that it has the fingerprints of Termite Tommy DeLay, whose avowed mission has been to starve the beast, subvert the Constitution and establish the Theocratic States of America.

Mark this moment well: I'm about to quote from a group that I probably would never agree with otherwise:

"Volunteer labor is just that: volunteer," said the Rev. Robert E. Reccord, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's North American Mission Board, told the Washington Post. "We would never ask the government to pay for it."

And if the American Red Cross is suggesting it is a faith-based group, I want my money back. I gave it to you because I thought your mission was relief, not messaging. You pay people to do the work you do. It is charitable in nature, but it is a business (do you give blood to hospitals for free?)

And more catching up after a hectic week...

The standard refrain from the "No Blame Game" crowd is to point fingers at the state and local governments. Again, there are valid complaints -- the failure to provide the buses to evacuate; the question of why evacuees were sent to places like the Superdome and Convention Center when there weren't supplies for them; the striking failure of the police to do their job, or worse yet, join in the lawlessness.

But it all comes back to the cornerstone promise of the Bush-Cheney 2004 team: elect us and we will keep you safe. This New York Times story suggests, yet again, that the fingers should be pointed at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

High water equipment was in Iraq (where's the high water there?) Insufficient numbers of soldiers and those who were deployed were not trained for the tasks they faced. And of course Washington seeing the picture in a completely different light from the folks on the ground.

This is not a slap at the Guard who responded (although I am not amused by the image of soldiers who don't know how to swim!) This is a slap at the commanders -- particularly those at the five-pointed building on the Potomac -- who are, were and will continue to be unable to deliver on their mission whether it is because of competence or the civilian chain of command.

And of course there is that chain of command that, despite one fiasco after another continues to remain in place. You're doin' a heckuva a job, Rummy.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Christians resist the theory of evolution, yet Christianity itself seems to be evolving. In my youth, the term “Christian charity” meant sharing whatever you had with those less fortunate than yourself. I don’t recall any mention of reimbursement. Now religious groups are eagerly anticipating, if not actually asking for, reimbursement from the federal government for their donations to victims of Katrina and Rita. That is most certainly not charity, and it surely isn’t Christian.

October 03, 2005 12:22 PM  

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