Tuesday, September 27, 2005

My letter to Joe Scarborough


Terrible sidestepping

Mr. Scraborough,

I often find your show to be nothing more than "Fox-Lite", but you sometimes manage to temper your partisan leanings with genuinely reasoned thinking, something that is totally absent on your rival network. However, last night you made such a horrific leap in logic - you caught yourself just as you were about to criticize the administration and then turned away from it so quickly that I was sure you were going to give yourself whiplash - that I am compelled to write and complain.

Towards the end of your show you were complaining about a lack of leadership that the two recent hurricanes has exposed. Without looking up the transcript, you said something to the effect of "This was a failure of leadership at the local level, that state level, and the federal level … and Congress had better get its act together”. Somehow you managed to lay blame at the Federal level, BUT ONLY CONGRESS. Only the Legislative branch bears any responsibility? Not the Administrative branch? Because, now I know I wasn’t a Congressman like you were, but it would seem like actually RUNNING the agencies of the Federal Government would fall to the ADMINISTRATIVE branch. Or was that the day I was absent in history class?

It was truly painful to watch you pull yourself back – to see that you were either temperamentally incapable of assigning blame where it belongs, or that your partisan loyalty (not even partisan, really some sort of loyalty to an administration that has no grasp on what those “regular Joe’s” you claim to represent all around the country are actually thinking) made it impossible for you to assign blame, or perhaps some corporate sense of “wait, I’m the networks Republican shill, I better not seem too critical, better not stray too far off script” made you stop from speaking what you know (and it’s clear from the look on your face and your genuine reaction to what you saw along the Gulf Coast) to be the truth.

Mr. Scarborough, the American people have seen with their own eyes what went on. You are correct - there is plenty of blame to go around. I certainly don’t know enough about local Louisiana or New Orleans politics to bother to try and defend the actions or inaction on any local officials. But AFTER Katrina hit, the only level of Government that had the capability to react in a meaningful way was the Federal, and in particular the Administrative branch – NOT CONGRESS. Congress can’t order FEMA to prepare food, water and clothes. Congress can’t order the Army Corps of Engineers to survey the damage to the levees and flood walls after the storm has passed.

I am happy to see you going to great lengths to point out what you see as failures in preparation, but don’t complain about lack of leadership when you yourself don’t have the guts to call it like it is and follow the path of responsibility all the way to where it leads, in this case the White House.

Please understand that if I thought you were simply a mouth piece for the Right, I would not bother writing. But I think that you are someone who wants what is truly best for our country, without regard to political ideology. Having seen that we are not prepared for disasters – natural or manmade, you understand that improvements must be made. You are the kind of person I can disagree with on some matters, yet discuss and debate issues, and reach agreements on others. I hope you take this note in that spirit. I am disappointed that you did not use your forum the way you should have. I expected better from you.


Monday, September 26, 2005

Kummerspeck? Putzfimmel?? Plimpplampplettere???

Kummerspeck is a German word which literally means grief bacon: it is the word that describes the excess weight gained from emotion-related overeating.


Wednesday, September 14, 2005

I Guess You Folks Don't Read

This is a response to the two people who posted after my last entry. I found it somewhat rude that you would use my blog to post fairly long excerpts from articles. You could simply have linked to them, and made your points. But, in reality, your points didn’t address anything I said in my post, nor did the articles you quoted so extensively from have anything to say that might sway my thinking, or refute my points.

To reiterate my points from my previous post, that you can read right below this one, should you feel like taking the time to:

1) Orin Hatch and the rest of the Republican hatchet men (no pun intended) being used as pawns by this administration have some pair to go around “talking from both sides of their mouths”. They stonewall the media telling them they won’t play “The Blame Game”, yet they immediately lay as much blame as possible on State and Local authorities. I never made any comment about State or Local accountability. I don’t know enough about Louisiana and/or New Orleans politics to have an opinion one way or the other. I’m not saying we shouldn’t blame State and Local officials, or hold them accountable. I’m saying that we should ALSO blame Federal officials and hold them accountable, because …

2) After the Hurricane their response was woefully slow and inadequate. There’s very little argument here. As they like to say about Iraq, however we got there, we’re there now and we’ve got to make sure it’s a success. Whatever went in to the failures of the levees, they failed, and the ONLY agencies that had the capability to respond were the Feds. And their response was slow to come, and sucked when it did arrive. And they DID cut funding to the levees. The very article “Anonymous” quotes at length, unless there are some quotation marks missing, states “In recent years, funding has dropped precipitously, which some officials attributed in part to the escalating costs of the Iraq war.” Unless this is a quote that you meant to attribute to someone, and not a direct quote of the article, it seems like you contradict yourself, or the article does.

Even if you want to take funding for the levees out of the equation, the day after the hurricane passed, would it have been too much to ask for the Feds to send the Army Corps of Engineers in to have a look, assess the situation and see if they thought there was any remnant of danger to the levees?

And “Marty said…”, when you say that “The Washington Post reports the Bush administration has granted the corps more funding than the previous administration over a similar period”, where has that money gone? Not to the levees, it would seem. And when you go on to say “that Louisiana has received far more money for civil works projects than any other state. The paper says much of the funding has been spent not on flood control, but on lawmakers' pet construction projects”, you make a good argument for strong Federal controls on spending, rather than giving out money to the States in Reagan-like block grants, that are then subject to local corruption (assuming, and I most certainly DO NOT make this assumption about our current administration) that the Federal Gov’t is less inclined to corruption than local governments.

As to blaming the Sierra Club – puh-lease! What far-Right wacko is putting that one out? The Sierra Club has long fought to help stabilize the wetlands surrounding New Orleans. Without the erosion of the wetlands, NO wouldn’t be in as much danger from flooding, because the wetlands provide a natural barrier that would ease the burden on the levees.

If you want to blame the Mayor (I’m aware the neither of the posts really point blame anywhere, aside from the Sierra Club, but rather do their best to deflect blame from Shrub and his minions) for not getting people on those buses that they keep showing us that are underwater (and there may be blame there), then I guess it would be fair to blame the President for not taking action when he was handed a “Presidential Daily Briefing” titled “Bin Laden determined to attack inside the U.S.” on AUGUST 6th 2001 for what happened on Sept. 11? And just today, there’s an update to the 9/11 commission report that reveals that the FAA were warned as long ago as 1998 (!?!?!?) that “Al Qaeda could ‘seek to hijack a commercial jet and slam it into a U.S. landmark,’”. Condi, do you want to re-think your testimony that no one could have imagined terrorists using planes to fly into buildings? Mr. President, do you want to re-think your statement that no one could have imagined the levees breaking?

Maybe you folks should start watching “Barney and Friends”, and learn to use your imagination.

Further scary reading:


And, Wynton Marsalis is quickly becoming my new hero.

http://www.wyntonmarsalis.com/ - see statement at the bottom of the page
http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0509/04/lkl.01.html - Wynton’s segment is at the bottom

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Orin Hatch on Water Skis

(With a nod to FZ...)

Just heard Orin Hatch on "This Week" dodge the questsion of blame for the Federal Gov't and their response (or lack thereof) to Katrina. He went on and on about how now isn't the time to assign blame, and how there would be plenty of blame to go around. He even managed to divert blame from the Feds and place some back at the State and City Gov't by saying "they're 10 feet below sea level, they should have been prepared for this". Well, I'm pretty sure it's 7 feet, but I'm sure it's hard to guage when you have your HEAD UP YOUR ASS!!!!

In one second he's saying this isn't the time to assign blame, and the next second he's assigning blame. What a freaking bitch!

He said now was the time to find solutions. Just remember, this is the Republican Party, the party of personal responsibilty, the administration that promised to restore accountability to Gov't. Oh, I see. Except for when something goes wrong. Then, it's never the time for blaming anyone. I'm sure it's hard to be accountable when you're at the tail end of a 5 week vacation. You know how it is when you come back to work, it takes a few days to ramp up, get going again. Plus, I think Shrub left his BullHorn in NYC a few years ago.

I've got news for you. Now is ABSOLUTELY THE RIGHT TIME TO ASSIGN BLAME. The response was LOUSY. I'm watching May Landreau right now honestly assess the dimensions of this tragedy. This is a disaster of HUGE human proportions, and enourmous economic proportions. We are about to enter into the closest thing to a depression since the 20's. Gas prices are going to kill this economy. The situation in New Orleans, the damage to the infrastructure, is going to cause unimaginable economic problems that will reverberate throughout the country. I heard at one point that they estiamte 500,000 jobs will be lost because of this. You have no idea how bad this is going to be.

It's amazing that they can blame the people who didn't evacuate the city - as Rush BlowHard said, "Why don't they have cars?". Yes, of course, let's blame the poor people for being poor. But let's not blame the Federal Government for being slow to respond. They had planned and run models of what would happen if a storm of this magnatude hit N.O. They knew. When the weather services started screaming over the weekend about how this was going to be a huge storm and a direct hit on New Orleans, they should have prepared whatever National Guard in the area on standby. I know that the news loves to go all Chicken Little on us with the "Storm of the Century of the Week" all the time. But this was THE nightmare scenario that everyone had imagined.

There's a difference between blame and responsibility. This administration is not taking responsibilty for their action - including cutting the funds for reinforcing the levees. And of course, for their "day late, dollar short" response to it after the fact.

Kanye West was probably right when he said "George Bush doesn't care about black people".