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Catching Up: On Katrina, William, John, John and Jon
2005.09.14 (Wed) 21:35
...and we're back. Most of the general craziness we've been dealing with lately has begun to subside, and we should be back to Ranting (as opposed to just barely keeping up with comments on our existing Rants). In all likelihood, we may start slowly, but we should be back up to speed within a few weeks. Of course, before we dive back in, we'll need to to actually figure out what's been going on in the world. For example, was it Paris Hilton or Lindsay Lohan who was seen wearing an awful blue dress last week? It's amazing what important details you miss when you aren't watching the news networks religiously.
Anyway, by way of catching up, we wanted to mention a few stories from the past week or so that caught our attention, but which we didn't get a chance to write about.
The big news lately has been Hurricane Katrina and the devastation it caused in the gulf region. Truly this is a terrible disaster, and if you are able, we recommend donations of time or money by way of a reputable organization such as the Red Cross. We won't get into the debate about which particular arm of the government is most to blame for how bad this disaster has been (and is still being) managed. Suffice it to say that the preparation and response by the government were awful, and Bush (among others) is suffering a well-deserved black eye over the debacle.
One thing that we want to mention is the incredible balls that some government officials displayed by claiming ignorance of well-established facts. Les Jenkins published a list of stupid Katrina quotes over on his site, and a few of them are worth special mention.
On ABC, on September 1st, then FEMA director Michael Brown said:
We just learned of the convention center — we being the federal government — today.
To which Ted Koppel responded:
Don't you guys watch television? Don't you guys listen to the radio? Our reporters have been reporting on it for more than just today.
Right on, Ted! Television, radio, newspapers, bloggers — in every form of mass media, folks have been informed of the entire Katrina debacle at every step along the way. And Brown is claiming the federal government was completely unaware of information concerning the vital safety of an entire region of our nation? This dials up two possibilities.
One: Brown is telling the truth. In this case, we should all be very, very frightened. This would mean we have quite possibly the most incompetent administration of all time currently running our country (into the ground).
Two: Brown is lying. In this case, too, we should all be very, very frightened. You see, if he's lying, then our government is not only corrupt, but callous and cruel. There is no question that this disaster could have been prepared for and confronted carefully, rationally, and expertly; so the government was able to do it. If they were able, and aware, and still did nothing — that's an exceptionally frightening (though by no means surprising) prospect. One more time, black and white, for the cheap seats: the government of our nation doesn't give a shit about the citizens of our nation...unless, of course, they're extremely rich and powerful.
From the Bush Boy himself, on Good Morning America, September 1st — six days after repeated warnings from experts regarding the predicted scope of the damage from Hurricane Katrina — we have the following lovely daydream:
I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees.
We've spent some time in Louisiana, and specifically New Orleans. Our own Two-Percenter Tom lived in New Orleans for about a year back in the late-nineties. Noting the fact that water envelopes the city on all sides, and examining the old and relatively small levees that hold back that water, Tom once asked a New Orleans native what would happen in the event of a big storm. The resident shrugged and said: "I guess we'll all be under water." To reiterate: everyone knew that this day would come; it wasn't a question of if, it was a question of when. The federal government's lackadaisical response speaks to their incompetence at best; or, more likely, to their disregard for the people whose lives are directly impacted by Katrina.
But hey, why didn't those folks just get out of there when the storm was on its way? As Michael "Brownie" Brown calls them on CNN (also September 1st):
...those who are stranded, who chose not to evacuate, who chose not to leave the city...
Hey, ASSHOLE. (We only wish doubling our font size for that one word wouldn't ruin our streamlined site design.) There was no choice involved. You know all those school buses that ended up in the middle of a lake? Those were the only means that most of Katrina's victims HAD to evacuate. Yes, those buses which never moved, which were never deployed to help people who had no resources or capacity to help themselves. Part of our government's responsibility is to aid our nation, our people, in desperate times. This certainly qualified, and our government certainly fell short of meeting that obligation.
Some have cried racism in reaction to the government's show of dispassion, since so many of the people who lost so much happened to be black. While we certainly do think that Bush and his cronies are racist assholes (with, perhaps, the exception of Condi "Uncle Tom" Rice), we believe the true nature of their prejudice in this case is classist, rather than racist. These weren't just black people...they were poor people of all creeds and colors. And the rich folks hit by Katrina...?
"Out of the rubbles of Trent Lott's house — he's lost his entire house — there's going to be a fantastic house. And I'm looking forward to sitting on the porch."
— President George W. Bush, touring hurricane damage, Mobile, AL, September 2, 2005
Like Trent Lott, they get to sit on their newly rebuilt porches sipping mint juleps with Dubya.
One positive thing that came of this terrible tragedy — the mainstream media seems to have finally found its fucking spine. In addition to Ted Koppel challenging Mike Brown (above), CNN's Anderson Cooper reacted vehemently to Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA), who oozed enthusiasm as she recounted the government's steps to "fix" the problems brought on by Hurricane Katrina. Said Cooper:
...for the last four days, I've been seeing dead bodies in the streets here in Mississippi. And to listen to politicians thanking each other and complimenting each other, you know, I got to tell you, there are a lot of people here who are very upset, and very angry, and very frustrated. And when they hear politicians slap — you know, thanking one another, it just, you know, it kind of cuts them the wrong way right now, because literally there was a body on the streets of this town yesterday being eaten by rats because this woman had been laying in the street for 48 hours. And there's not enough facilities to take her up. Do you get the anger that is out here?
We hope and wish that this sort of talk is a sign of things to come. Maybe the mainstream media will come to realize that "fair and balanced" doesn't mean "oblivious and impartial." Hey, if you ignore the government's shortcomings in response to, for example, Hurricane Katrina, then you're hardly being "fair" to the thousands killed or displaced by the event, are you? We'll cross our fingers, and keep watching.
In other news, Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist passed away. We'll pause for a moment before getting on to the rest of the story. Did we like Rehnquist? Well, we sure didn't like many of his decisions. Hell, just look at the opinions that he signed his name to in the recent Ten Commandments cases and you'll understand why we'd say that — he apparently didn't view the rights of atheists as equal to those of the religiosos. So no, we didn't agree with his point of view in many cases. Of course, we didn't wish him death, and we aren't happy that he's dead, but we aren't about to call him a "Great American" just because he died.
With Rehnquist's seat open, Bush decided to slide his nominee for the O'Connor post, John Roberts, into the Chief Justice spot. From our perspective, it was a smart move (we doubt Bush came up with it all by himself). Roberts is likely a shoe-in, as opposed to one of the few sitting justices that Bush might have bumped up (though we would have loved to have seen another Clarence Thomas confirmation hearing — go Pubester!).
Roberts has been navigating his confirmation in typical fashion, avoiding so-called litmus tests, and providing lots of answers that are making people on both sides of the abortion debate nervous. Bill Maher has already booked a cemetery plot for Roe v. Wade and declared that it is only a matter of time until that landmark abortion case is overturned. At the same time, Roberts' answers on abortion are causing the anti-choice folks to go into spasms of anxiety every time they hear the phrase stare decisis. We can't say for certain what will happen to abortion rights over the next decade as a result of these recent events; we just don't think it's as clear cut as some people have averred. If we had to guess, we'd say that a woman's right to choose will likely be diminished, but not abolished, and that the states will have more latitude to do as they wish, at least in the short term. This isn't a pretty picture in our opinion — it sounds like a throwback to days of old when women had to cross state lines in order to procure proper medical care, and back-alley abortions were commonplace. However, only time will tell. You never really know what kind of Supreme Court Justice someone will be until they are actually on the bench, and something tells us that Roberts might not be as bad as the left (or as good as the right) thinks he will be.
Of course, Bush also has another Supreme Court nomination on the way, and unless we've really missed something, he hasn't announced it yet. Just like last time, there's all the usual hoopla about how this nominee should be a woman or a minority.
Bush picks his buddies for every single opening that crops up, and we see no reason to think he'll deviate here. The man takes cronyism to new heights at every appointment, so we expect to see a Long Time Friend and Associate™ nominated. Silly us, we'd opt for someone qualified, no matter their gender or background; but that's probably why we aren't in politics.
Speaking of political stupidity, in the ongoing battle to overcome the stupidity that is Creationism, Senator John McCain has gone over to the dark side. As Grendel pointed out in a comment on another post, and as PZ Myers touched upon last week, McCain has endorsed "teaching the controversy" as the best approach in public schools. Quoth McCain:
[McCain] sided with the president on two issues that have made headlines recently: teaching intelligent design in schools and Cindy Sheehan, the grieving mother who has come to personify the anti-war movement.
McCain told the Star that, like Bush, he believes "all points of view" should be available to students studying the origins of mankind.
Any politician who makes a statement like this falls into one of two categories.
The first category is the uninformed, who simply don't understand why there is no serious controversy on a scientific level. We have no respect for someone making a public statement on this topic when they possess so little understanding of science.
The second category fully understands that evolution is science, and creationism (no matter what you call it) is religion. They know that there is no scientific debate to teach about, and make this statement anyway in order to curry favor with the large contingent of voting aged morons in this country. We have no respect for this type of politician, either.
So, either way, we've lost a lot of respect for McCain at this point.
Was McCain perfect before this? Hell no. We disagreed with many of his stances on social issues. However, he seemed to us to be the safest of all possible Republicans who might seek the Presidency in 2008 (though he has said he isn't interested). Would we have voted for him? That's hard to say. Since most elections are of the "lesser of two evils" variety, it would depend largely on his opponent. But it's now safe to say that he has taken up residence in the nutbag camp, and we tend not to vote for nutbags — or their bedfellows.
In related news, and in case you don't already watch every night, the Daily Show is focusing this week on the, er, "debate" between Evolution and Creationism. Apparently, Senator McCain could stand to watch a few episodes so that he understands just how stupid his statement is.
From what we've seen of the Daily Show this week, they've been doing a decent job of presenting the subject. We only have two quibbles, which may be addressed tonight or tomorrow night.
First: would it hurt to get some actual experts on the show? We'd even be happy to see some of the "Intelligent Design" nutjobs (ooh! How about Duane Gish or Bill Dembski?) — simply because, knowing Jon Stewart's wit and whimsy, they would come off looking pretty darn stupid, thus emphasizing how ridiculous their claims are. But even better, an evolutionary biologist of some sort would be just what the doctor ordered (we vote for PZ Myers!). We understand that, in many ways, the Daily Show preaches to the choir — but it is a largely uneducated (or miseducated) choir, whose constituents could use a refresher course in why creationism is such bullshit.
Our other quibble is a minor one, and even a bit unfair (of us), but it applies to both the Daily Show, and Bill Maher's show, and far too much of Air America Radio. The thing is — we know, the primary goal of most of these shows is entertainment. It's about laughs, and celebrities, and off-the-wall zaniness. But there comes a point where the jokes lead into precisely the misinformation that the IDiots thrive on. As an example, both Ed Helms (of the Daily Show) and Bill Maher (on his show) made the same mistake: stating that humans are "descended from monkeys." We're not — we share a common ancestor with monkeys. The whole "descended from monkeys" thing is a major pet peeve of anyone who actually understands evolutionary theory, and a minor "victory" for the folks who trash science daily.
Jon (and company), Bill, all you Air America hosts: we understand the need for jokes, fellas, but please — no misinformation. We count on you guys to (humorously) spread reason and rationalism. Let's be careful out there.
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[ Filed under: % Bush Watch % Civil Liberties % Creationism % Government & Politics ]
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Rockstar, 2005.09.15 (Thu) 10:25 [Link] »
S.T.R., 2005.09.15 (Thu) 12:06 [Link] »
Grendel, 2005.09.15 (Thu) 15:40 [Link] »
The Two Percent Company, 2005.09.15 (Thu) 22:27 [Link] »
Fan-man, 2005.09.16 (Fri) 11:25 [Link] »
Grendel, 2005.09.16 (Fri) 18:06 [Link] »
Fan-man, 2005.09.16 (Fri) 22:16 [Link] »
The Two Percent Company, 2005.09.18 (Sun) 00:55 [Link] »
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