Stark Relief



Are they really _this_ clueless?

I'm sitting in a "business center" in a resort hotel in Orlando, FL. The TV's on nearby, tuned to MSNBC. Apparently today is the one year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina hitting New Orleans. Hardball was just on with the tagline on the screen: "Will Katrina sink Bush in the fall?" which is a stupid question [oh yeah, I forgot, "there's no such thing as a stupid question, just stupid people"] for many reasons. First of all, how can a storm a year ago cause our President "to lower in standing or reputation" in a few months? No new information came out today, or is projected to come out in "the fall" that would have this effect on Bush's "standing or reputation." Of course, they are probably referring to elections this fall, but I'm sure someone's told them that President Bush will not be a candidate in this fall's elections, nor will he be a candidate for President in 2008, and probably not a candidate for anything else, either.

No, they must really mean, "Will the events surrounding Hurricane Katrina hurt Republican U.S. Congressional candidates' chances in November's elections?" Surely, the people at Hardball, a national political news show, realize that President Bush is not the Republican party. Yes, he is a member of that party, and is currently the one who holds the highest position, and, yes, looked at simplistically, more Republican congressmen will probably help Bush get the laws he wants passed, but it reveals a certain mentality when the word "Bush" is used to mean the Republican party. Based on my experience, it seems a lot like BDS, "Bush Derangement Syndrome," a malady that causes ostensibly intelligent people to lose any critical thinking skills when the subject is President George W. Bush, the evil super-genius, moronic chimpanzee that controls everything and will destroy anyone who disagrees with him, or, at least, he would if the courageous people like Dan Rather, Kos, and George Soros didn't get the message out before he had them silenced. To someone suffering from BDS, _everything_ is about Bush, literally. Hurricane Katrina in August 2005 is about sinking Bush in fall of 2006.

The woman hosting Hardball then talked to some idiot named Joe Scarborough [evidently, he even has his own show]. I tried to turn my music up load enough not to have to listen, but I did catch him saying how the Republicans had built this myth since 1968 and 1972, that the Democrats couldn't be trusted to govern, and that Hurricane Katrina destroyed that myth. Huh, come again, Joe? I assume he thinks that Republicans did a poor job of governing after Katrina hit New Orleans, since they controlled the federal government, but I don't see how that shows whether the Democrats can govern or not. In fact, the actual cases of Democrats governing during that time are the Democrat mayor of New Orleans and the Governor of Louisiana who had horrible evacuation plans and then didn't even activate them. See this post from Mike N. for more on that. Mike brings up the most important point here:

All in all, the documentary shows that all three levels of government failed at the task of disaster prepardness [sic], and relief. I was a little disappointed though, that the question "Should the government be in the business of disaster prepardness and relief?" was never asked. It is just assumed that such is the government's natural role. But Charity Hospital had lost power and for several days staff were hand ventilating some of the critical patients. When it became clear that the government-at any level- wasn't going to transfer them to another hospital, they appealed to CNN who did a report. Seeing the report a private air-lift ambulance company volunteered its services and quickly transported the patients to other hospitals. To me, the the [sic] utter incompetence of government compared to the efficiency of private enterprise was glaringly obvious. Yet it is the government we are told to depend on. It makes no sense.

But for the media, and much of "Blue America," a hurricane is just a way to try to score political points. Just the fact that they're wondering if it will "defeat" or "sink" Bush [in some weird, unspecified way] without mentioning the millions of people who are currently trying to kill us just strikes me as a huge non-sequitur. I can't believe that anyone can take these guys seriously, and it's one reason why I can't watch TV news.


The Ivory Tower: Visiting "God" Again

Amanda Carlson at The Ivory Tower is Visiting "God" Again. She refers to a post that she made last year, and describes some clarifications she recently has had on the topic.


A Recap

President John Kerry uses his Secretary of State, Howard Dean, and Ambassador to the United Nations, Dennis Kucinich, to work multi-laterally with the French to draft a UN Resolution to "cease the hostilities" between Hezb'Allah and Israel.

After UK law enforcement foils a plot to destroy several planes over the Atlantic, President Kerry says, "Travelers are going to be inconvenienced as a result of the steps we've taken. I urge their patience and ask them to be vigilant. The inconvenience is -- occurs because we will take the steps necessary to protect the American people." The steps necessary to protect the American people consist of forbidding liquids and gels to be carried on airplanes:

That is, the West has accepted, indefinitely, as a norm, a state of siege. A state of siege requires the diminution of the freedom and liberties of the besieged, which is what we are witnessing now in the U.S. The besiegers will do as they please, and keep probing for weaknesses, or find a way to bypass our Maginot line. And all we will do is "react."

It is certainly pragmatic to prohibit paying passengers from taking liquids, make-up, toothpaste and laptop computers on board commercial planes to thwart suicide bombers. But this is merely another example of a siege philosophy, a policy to protect the country from enemies the [...] administration refuses to acknowledge and attack. Do these restrictions on Americans serve to preserve freedom, liberty and other rights that creatures like Michael Chertoff, head of Homeland Security, claim they are serving? Hardly.

In national politics, treating Islamic terrorists as a law enforcement problem and locking down our country into a further state of siege has riled up a vocal portion of the electorate, who organize using the Internet and work to get politicians elected who talk tough against state sponsors of terrorism, such as Iran and Syria. Recently, Montana's incumbent Republican Senator lost the GOP's primary to a rancher, Jed Beaumont, who promised the first thing he would do in Congress is work to declare war on Iran if it didn't immediately cease its aspirations for nuclear weapons. This has many progressives in the country worried about what they call the "Rabid Right" fringe taking over the Republican party.

Many on the right bemoan the fact that President Bush failed to win reelection, believing that we wouldn't be in this situation with such a strong foreign policy President who didn't have to worry about another election in charge. Iran wouldn't dare appear to be crossing a US government that demolished Iraq's defenses so quickly. In fact, it would probably try to earn points by calling on Iraqi Shiites to work with the Sunnis on creating a stable country.

It almost makes me regret my vote.


"An Unmitigated Disaster"

And I'm not just talking about not being able to bring beverages on our flights; Caroline Glick explains.

We stop a deadly terrorist plot, yet we still decide to surrender.


They say that only the good die young...

Gus has a great post on the [hopeful] death of Fidel Castro. As with Yasser Arafat, I'm looking forward to raising a toast to his demise; I'm thinking, "¡Viva Cuba libré!"

And I've added Babalú to my RSS reader.

"If you want a prettier picture, bring me a prettier face"

There's a pretty good article in today's USA Today on how the US Government tries to hide how much of our money they overspend and obligate us to pay. My post title comes from the end of the article:

Tom Allen, who will become the chairman of the federal accounting board in December, says sound accounting principles require that financial statements reflect the economic value of an obligation.

“It's hard to argue that there's no economic substance to the promises made for Social Security and Medicare,” he says.

Social Security and Medicare should be reflected in the bottom line because that's the most important number in any financial report, Allen says.

“The point of the number is to tell the public: Did the government's financial condition improve or deteriorate over the last year?” he says.

If you count Social Security and Medicare, the federal government's financial health got $3.5 trillion worse last year.

Rep. Mike Conaway, R-Texas, a certified public accountant, says the numbers reported under accrual accounting give an accurate picture of the government's condition. “An old photographer's adage says, ‘If you want a prettier picture, bring me a prettier face,' ” he says.

Harry Binswanger has long made the point that tax cuts are a secondary concern and the primary goal should be to cut government spending. Taxes are only one way that our government loots us; the other two are borrowing and inflation, so lowering taxes without first cutting spending just changes the form of that looting. [Also recommended is his article on why there would be no "Transition Costs" in privatizing Social Security.]