Notes on Political Venality, Pomposity and Associated Stupidity.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

The Lessons of Katrina


→ You can tear me a new one if you like, but I'm going to say this anyway; if you live below sea level and you are right next to a big lake on one side and the ocean on the other, it could be said that you get what you deserve. Technology, by way of pumps and levees can't be trusted to save you from the inevitable. Katrina and her sad aftermath is an object listen.

→ The wind and the water proved how temporal the Gulf States' reliance on casino revenue is. Like some pathetic blue-hair gambling away her SS check, the states now must turn and walk out to the bus with their pockets empty as well.

→ Bush must be a "person of faith," as his "save me from Cindy Sheehan" prayers were answered. He was able to rush back to DC under false "I need to lead the efforts" pretenses.

→ While municipal officials bemoan the breached levees, one has to ask; didn't you guys ever think this might happen? Wasn't there some sort of contingency plan in place? Didn't someone ever ask, "what if?" For a historical antecedent, look to Johnstown, PA, which depended on an earthen damn for its protection as well.

→ Finally, is it just me, or is there something interesting in the fact that the Quarter was (apparently) spared the worst of the damage, while the symbols of modern "culture," such as the Super Dome and the casinos, bore some of the worst of it? Almost makes one believe in god...

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

The Media: It's All About Us!

I watched very little coverage of Hurrican Katrina. Just enough to have an idea about what was happening, and then, in the aftermath, what had happened. My total "time spent viewing" was probably no more than twenty minutes.

Yet, within that narrow window, I was at least three times witness to self-congratulatory, self-serving video pieces in which the cable outlets told us how wonderful and brave they were. This included one report in which a CNN reporter, Jeannie Meserve, was close to tears. Tears? There's no crying in TV journalism! None. The men who were challenged with reporting the death of John Kennedy fought their emotions throughout the ordeal, but they held it in check. Cronkite, clearly shaken by the event, did nothing more than remove his reading glasses and pause for a moment upon his announcement of the President's death.

But in today's participatory journalism, journalists LOVE being part of the story. It turns them into stars and those stars then become valuable commidities which the cable networks can use to boost their ratings. Ms. Meserve's inability to retain a semblance of professionallism is pathetic. Instead of being lauded (which I'm guessing will happen) she should be suspeneded and told to get her act together. But I guess that's the problem; for too many TV "journalists" today, it is all an act.

And you know what? I don't care how you got that "dramatic footage." I don't care that you had to move your satellite trucks out of NOLA and use FTP to transmit a compressed video stream. And I don't care how long you reporters were awake or where they slept or how battered by the storm they were. This wasn't about you. No news story should ever be.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

It's the End of the World As We Know It...Really

For some time now I've been reading all I can about the issue of "peak oil." I won't rehash it all for you here, except to say that the basic premise is that we are running out of oil, fast. For more details and a very insightful, clearly written and superbly annotated (hypertext wise) overview go here. But be forewarned, this is scary stuff.

If you believe (and I do) that oil will become increasingly scarce very soon, and that the government knows it better than anyone, it is easy to begin to put much of what the Bush administation is doing in perspective. Use the prism of peak oil to illuminate and view their actions and perhaps they aren't as crazy as they seem.

For instance, if, as the peak oil experts claim, we will face massisve economic disruptions and will become engaged in "resource wars" (for oil and water, among others) it is clear that a government, looking ahead, would do what it could to get a foothold in the area of the world where the most oil is. You know, like Iraq. With that in mind, the invasion and subsequent occupation of Iraq looks different. It looks like a smart move, a "good opening" in the ultimate global chess game. The rest of the Iraq nonsense, like the WMDs and the constitution and all that "freedom and democracy talk" is just window dressing.

How could we do this, you say? Because, the government surmises (and I think rightfully so) that, when push comes to shove, and oil skyrockets in cost, no one will care who we steal the oil from, we'll just want it!

Think about the Chavez comment from preacher Robertson. A trial balloon, no doubt. Let Pat say this and see how it plays in the media...but again, it's all about oil. Venuzuela is on the short list of potential targets, particularly because it's in our hemisphere.

How about the CAFE standards for automakers? While it might save a bit here and there, most peak oil experts claim it would do little, if anything (and it might actually speed up the process!) to help our oil dependency. So, if that is true, the government would be crazy to push the automakers to spend capital on improved technology. They figure it would hurt the automakers and employees in the short term -- and that's the only term left to us.

If you haven't read up on this issue yet, this may all seem alarmist or nutty. But I urge you to give it your attention and take it seriously. It's just possible that the scruffy guy carrying an "The End is Near" sign down Main Street may finally be right.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Where All Honestly Ends

At this point in our nation's great history, research shows that about 50% of the American public doesn't trust their President.

That means, in round numbers, that something like 150-million people think the man that represents and (ostensibly) runs their nation, is a liar a scoundrel and a brigand. That means that, the man who wants prayer in school, the ten commandments in every courthouse and a prayer on everyone's lips, is an untrustworthy lout. It means he's the kind of guy you might lend bus fare too, but you wouldn't expect him to pay you back.

Great lesson for the kids, eh?

And my guess is that far more than 150-million don't trust him, they just don't want to admit that they've been hornswoggled.

I'm not trying to be cute, for this really is a serious isssue. The current administration and its enablers in Congress and the Judiciary are the first ones to reference "the founding fathers," while, at the same time, eschewing all those men stood for. While the men who helped craft the underpinnings of our nation weren't saints, they are, for the most part, remembered as intelligent people who were honest in their intentions -- to create a nation where liars and scoundrels could not flourish.

And yet, flourish they do, from the White House to the State House. We can only hope that, as the great grandson of a former President is taking it on the chin in Ohio, the cumuppence of George W. Bush is fast approaching, too.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

What Cindy Sheehan Means

Cindy Sheehan is not a college student, but she is doing what college students used to do, which is to camp out on the doorsteps of power and demand explanations. Of course, it would take a 48 year old woman to remember those distant times. Today, most students are clearly too busy contemplating their navels, as in, "should I pierce it or not."

Of course, one of the problems in the 60's was that students, even educated college kids, didn't carry much moral weight when they took control of college admin buildings. Their hearts and minds were usually in the right place, but they lacked the gravitas that age and experience bring, especially if that experience includes the death of your beloved child.

So Cindy waits along the highway, like one of the Jobes left behind. And that is essentially what she represents; a American who has been forgotten by her nation, who has been forced to take to the dusty road in hopes of some small recompense, a future, an answer.

The question, of course is, will she get it? No.

Bush will never stray "off the ranch" anymore than he will stray "off message," because they are one in the same thing. The Crawford ranch is not a place, it's a symbol. It speaks volumes. It embodies the "sleeves rolled-up, truck-driving, brush-clearing" image that this "Yale-educated, born-with-a-silver-spoon-in-his-mouth" has managed to sell to a very gullible public. Leaving the ranch, even for a ten-minute chat with Cindy, just isn't in the cards, or the game plan.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

The Petty Revenge of Rick Santorum

Make no doubt about it, the fact that the Republican National Committee has chosen to have a fundraiser at the John Heinz Regional History Center in Pittsburgh this week is nothing more or less than an arrogant, petty slap-in-the-face of Theresa Heinz, the late Senator's wife. Over the years, she has made no secret of her utter distaste for Rick and the last election cycle just upped the ante.

Theresa's husband was a much-loved politician. A moderate. A man of principal. A person who could see both sides of an issue. Essentially, everthing that Santorum is not. Also, he was rich, which I think is something Ricky has always been secretly jealous of.

So tomorrow night they'll be laughing it up at the Heinz Center. You know what this will be like; a noxious cocktail party full of self-satisfied rich arrogant Republican men (and perhaps their wives, who don't work outside the home) talking about politics and golf, not necessarily in that order. And the cheap, classless jokes about tweaking Theresa will be on everyone's lips. But that shouldn't surprise us. After all, it's the Christian way, right Rick?