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Monday, September 1, 2008

In the armchair of the storm

When I started blogging back in April, I was surprised at how easy it turned out to be. All you have to do is state the obvious, and bang--instant wisdom, instant punditry. So I was just about to hit the keyboard to say the obvious about Hurricane Gustav and the Republican convention when, dang, Paul Krugman beat me to it in today's New York Times. His piece, entitled "John, Don't Go," not only says pretty much all that needs to be said, but is one of Krugman's best and wittiest to boot. So here are a few tidbits designed to get you to go and read the whole thing if you haven't already.

Krugman points out that Gustav could not come at a worst time, because it reminds everyone how the Bush administration botched its handling of Katrina. But this time it's gonna be different:

Instead, Mr. Bush is playing Commander in Chief. On Sunday morning the White House Web site featured photos of the president talking to Gulf state governors about Hurricane Gustav while ostentatiously clutching a red folder labeled “Classified.” On Monday, instead of speaking at the convention, reports suggest that Mr. Bush will address the nation about the storm.

"What's wrong with this picture?" Krugman asks?

Let’s start with that red folder. Assuming that the folder contained something other than scrap paper, is the planned response to a hurricane a state secret? Are we worried that tropical storm systems will discover our weak points? Are we fighting a Global War on Weather?

Whatever is in that highly classified, top secret red folder, it doesn't seem to be the lessons that should have been learned from Katrina:

The political cost of Katrina shocked the Bush administration into trying to undo some of the damage at FEMA, and it’s a good bet that the initial response to Gustav will be better (it could hardly be worse). But because the political philosophy responsible for FEMA’s decline hasn’t changed, the administration hasn’t been able to reverse the agency’s learned incompetence. Three years after Katrina, and a year past a Congressional deadline, FEMA still doesn’t have a strategy for housing disaster victims.

Now, for McCain's plans to allegedly rise above partisan politics and put the "country first":

Earlier this year Mr. McCain, as part of his strategy of distancing himself from the current administration, condemned Mr. Bush’s response to Katrina. If he’d been president at the time, he says, “I would’ve landed my airplane at the nearest Air Force base and come over personally.”

Um, that completely misses the point. The problem with the Bush administration’s response to Katrina wasn’t the president’s failure to show up promptly for his photo op. It was the failure of FEMA and other degraded agencies to show up promptly with food, water and first aid.

And let’s hope that Mr. McCain doesn’t jet into the disaster area in Gustav’s aftermath. The candidate’s presence wouldn’t do anything to help the area recover. It would, however, tie up air traffic and disrupt relief efforts, just as Mr. Bush did when he flew into New Orleans to congratulate Brownie on the work he was doing. Remember the firefighters who volunteered to help Katrina’s victims, only to find that their first job was to stand next to Mr. Bush while the cameras rolled?

And Krugman's finale:

What we really need is a government that works, because it’s run by people who understand that sometimes government is the solution, after all. And that seems to be something undreamed of in either Mr. Bush’s or Mr. McCain’s philosophy.

There, I told you blogging was easy. When you find someone who can say what you wanted to say as well or better than you can about an important issue of the day, you just let them say it. That makes you look like a humble, discerning individual who puts the blogosphere first and your own personal blogger ambitions second. John McCain, you taught us well!

Image: NASA/JPJ

Bristol's baby: Is Sarah Palin's 17 year old daughter having her baby and marrying the father of her child because she wants to or because she has been pressured to? That's a legitimate question that both journalists and those interested in women's rights should be asking themselves. In my view privacy considerations have to be waived in cases like these, just as they always have been in American politics.

Meanwhile, back in Minnesota: Historian Andrew Hunt has an excellent roundup post on the police crackdown against protesters at the Republican Convention.

Sarah Wiki Watch: The Times also reports today that a "McCain campaign volunteer" heavily edited Sarah Palin's Wikipedia entry shortly before she was named VP choice. This one needs a little more investigation, IMHO. The episode also serves as yet another warning that while Wikipedia is good for a first check of what information might be available on a subject, it should NEVER be considered authoritative, no matter what its founders and boosters say. In fact, there is probably no such thing as an authoritative fact, period, although I don't recommend flinging oneself headlong into hopeless post-modernist angst.

9 comments:

Richard said...

And let’s hope that Mr. McCain doesn’t jet into the disaster area in Gustav’s aftermath.

and..
There, I told you blogging was easy. When you find someone who can say what you wanted to say as well or better than you can about an important issue of the day, you just let them say it. That makes you look like a humble, discerning individual who puts the blogosphere first and your own personal blogger ambitions second.

I like that.

best regards

Richard Parker
Siargao Island, Philippines

http://smallislandnotes.blogspot.com/
www.coconutstudio.com
http://austronesiancounting.wordpress.com/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/28722516@N02/

Richard said...

Gustav weakens to Category 2 as it nears La. coast
By MICHAEL KUNZELMAN and MARY FOSTER – 38 minutes ago

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Hurricane Gustav is weakening slightly to a Category 2 storm as it nears landfall along the heavily evacuated Louisiana coast.

The National Hurricane Center says Gustav and its 110-mph winds should hit somewhere southwest of New Orleans by midday Monday. The center of the storm was about 80 miles from the city as of 8 a.m.

Forecasters had feared the storm would arrive as a devastating Category 4 with much more powerful winds as it approached the vulnerable city.

Those who heeded days of warnings to get out watched from shelters and hotel rooms hundreds of miles away, praying the powerful storm would pass without the same deadly toll.

http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5hblwpbfkh_9JH9nsNU1Xn9ttNKKQD92TUPGG0

Somebody must have prayed right.

jqb said...

John McCain cares:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VHDd83b5byk

Michael Balter said...

That's a pretty funny line about no Arabian horses dying, I had not heard that one before.

Now that Gustav is fizzling out, what excuse will Bush and Cheney have for not showing up to the convention before it ends?

And how will Sarah's pregnant daughter play in Peoria?

Inquiring minds want to know!

Anne Gilbert said...

I've just read that Sarah Palin's son may actually be her grandson, and Bristol is the mother. If so, that's probably why she's marrying the father.  If you're interested in more about this, go to today's Alternet(unfortunately I didn't save the URL).  There's a long story there about Sarah Palin suddenly --- in her seventh month --- announcing that she was pregnant, with a lot of pictures that don't seem to show a pregnant woman.  I ought to know.  By my seventh month, I definitely showed!Anne G 

jqb said...

I've just read that Sarah Palin's son may actually be her grandson, and Bristol is the mother.

Two day old conspiracy rumor, superceded by Palin's announcement that her 17 year old daughter is 5 months pregnant -- a product of abstinence-only education, which is what Palin supports.

a lot of pictures that don't seem to show a pregnant woman

And Kennedy was hit by a magic bullet and there are no pictures of a plane hitting the Pentagon and the towers couldn't have fallen that fast, yada yada. It's easy to weave conspiracy theories out of selective evidence and insufficient knowledge. To quote one parenting site, "good muscle tone tends to hide pregnancy". But Palin was irresponsible to get on that airplane after her contractions had started.

Richard said...

I think we're all going to have a lot of fun with Ms Palin. The more chatter (sorry, malicious gossip) the better.

And while we're about it, let the world know all about John McCain's 'family values' - dumping his disfigured first wife to marry a Mob heiress.

As for Wikipedia, I do like it, but my own entry has been completely missing since Friday - see for yourself if you don't believe me!

Richard said...

Juan Cole has a nice go at
http://www.juancole.com/2008/09/palin-laughs-at-cancer-surviving.html

jqb said...

I apologize if my previous comment seemed overly dismissive, but I believed for 30 years in a conspiracy to kill Kennedy before finding out that I had been misled by the "theorists" -- who included right wing nuts, other sorts of nuts, and people just out to make a buck by selling books -- who had played fast and loose with the facts ... for instance that "magic bullet", my first clue that I had been lied to, and which is completely debunked in Vincent Bugliosi's book, along with every other Kennedy conspiracy theory. But it's easy to believe what you want to believe, rather than sifting through the evidence scientifically.

As for "fun with Palin", Obama says "back off": http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/09/01/obama-to-media-back-off-p_n_122979.html

I do think the stuff about Palin laughing at Lyda Green's cancer is legitimate as it says a lot about her character.