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Letter from New York
Mathew Tombers is Managing Director of Intermat, Inc., ( a television company which executive produces programs and consults with industry companies on a variety of issues. Intermat, Inc. is currently involved in approximately thirty hours of television in various stages for a variety of networks. He is one of the Executive Producers of OFF TO WAR, a ten hour series for Discovery Times and for a one hour on international adoptions for Discovery Health. He has consulted a variety of companies, including Ted Turner Documentaries, WETA, Betelgeuse Productions, and Creation Films, Lou Reda Productions as well as many others.

August 29, 2007

Contemplating the breach of the levees and more…

When I woke this morning I was reminded first thing [joy that it is to have your clock radio set to NPR] that it was August 29th and we had arrived at the second anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, a tragedy that stopped, at last, the juggernaut that seemed to be the Bush Presidency. What all the chaos of Iraq had failed to do was accomplished by a force of nature that began to lay bare the sad state of America’s infrastructure and the flawed policies and inept administration that had allowed it to happen. Much of America began to lose faith in Mr. Bush, a blow from which he has never recovered. It was the point in his Presidency that his administration began its long and continuing descent in public opinion and ability to govern.

The “bully pulpit” of the Presidency was revealed in the days and weeks following the devastating breach of the levees to be little more than a cardboard box and that all the governmental agencies were flailing tentacles of a failing system. Michael Brown [“"Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job."] denied anyone was in need in the Superdome, where in reality corpses lay unclaimed and uncared for while all suffered from lack of water, food and sanitation in a grim scene that seemed reminiscent of third world catastrophes.

The levees broke even though it seemed everyone knew they would never survive a Katrina. Two years have passed and the French Quarter has been rebuilt to its tourist haven glory while the 9th Ward lays mostly desolate and much of the public infrastructure still sits in ruins. Firemen cannot inhabit some firehouses and work from trailers. Ah, yes, trailers, a debacle of trailers followed in the wake of Katrina.

And now it’s two years later. New Orleans is still struggling to return and much of the reconstruction has been the result of private, not public, efforts. Church groups and college students, caring souls from around the country and the world, have descended for short amounts of time and given the city their effort, strength and love while FEMA flailed.

And now it’s two years later and a bridge has collapsed in Minneapolis, another infrastructure failure and the same President who presided over Katrina is objecting to Congressional efforts to provide additional funds for infrastructure repair.

It’s two years later and the reigning Republican Congress has fallen in the face of such catastrophes as Katrina, not to mention sex scandals, Plamegate, Abramhoff, a war that should never been going off the trolley tracks, rocketing deficits and a rickety economy. Karl Rove has departed his White House office and Alfredo Gonzalez is stepping down. While Rove appears to have slipped through without any indictments, the same may not be true for the attorney general. It seems that Republicans are determined to end their terms mired in more muck than has been seen since Teapot Dome [look it up].

In terms of inefficiency and amounts of bumbling, I don’t think I can think of another administration that was this bad. Hoover, perhaps, who didn’t get his arms around the reality of the Depression until he was headed out of office.

Inefficiency has been the hallmark of an administration that intended to govern by the kind of disciplines learned in business school. Hard as it is to believe, this President does have an M.B.A. It has also come to strike the country as hypocritical that so many Republican [the party of “Family Values”] lawmakers have been ensnared in unsavory scandals of a sexual nature, including one recently busted in an airport restroom, a few whose names were found in a Madame’s black book, a Congressman who flirted with pages via e-mail, and more.

It is hard to believe and almost laughable if the consequences weren’t so bad.

And yet the moon still shines down and earth still [perhaps barely] abides and being human we will wake in the morning with hope and do our best, we hope, to turn this all around.