Friday, September 02, 2005

Katrina: Republicans to cities—Go die! 

[I started this post yesterday, and, as will sometimes happen when dealing with wingers, the ginormous vacuity and self-assuredness of the argumentation, and the sheer virulence of the memes, boggled even my Enlightenment super-powers of evidence and reasoning. Yet in only 24 hours, the Republican Noise Machine has catapulted the "Blame New Orleans" meme all the way from the lunatic fringe (meet Professor Larry, uber-Patriot, below) to House Speaker Denny Hastert (and you always thought Hastert wasn't one of the thugs).]

So, let's watch the Republican Noise Machine in action, shall we? Katrina's got nothing on them when it comes to blowing hot air, eh? Starting yesterday:

Here's a beauty from Editor and Publisher. Of Will Bunch's research on how Bush paid for the war in Iraq by defunding flood control in New Orleans, thereby causing the breach of the 17th Street levee:

You've Got to be Kidding

This is truly an assinine [sic] column. The idea that I should be taxed to pay for the development of Lake Pontchartrain in New Orleans because I choose to live in a "hurricane-free" state like Ohio is absurd. It's even more absurd to think that because we spend money that is legitimate by constitutional standards -- for national defense against terrorists in Iraq -- we "don't have enough" for levee projects. I didn't see the residents of New Orleans kicking in privately for massive levee construction. How about this? You live in a hurricane zone, "you takes your chances"? Your "tax" for living in a temperate climate with a view of the ocean may well be that you get a hurricane every so often, just as it is California's burden to deal with earthquakes, mudslides, and fires because they want to live in near-perfect weather year round.

Stop blaming Bush and get a clue.

Prof. Larry Schweikart
University of Dayton
(via E&P)

So who is Professor Larry ? Here he is in full cry, flogging his new book:

That’s why I think the modern so-called “left” in fact greatly resembles the Nazis: they are anti-religious (unless it is their state, secular religion of “man” or Gaia); they are anti-Semitic; they hate freedom; and they are ruthless in their speech and behavior codes.

So ruthless they don't control any branch of the Federal Government....

Well, obviously Professor Larry has drunk deep of the Kool-Aid. Attempting to engage him using Enlightenment tools would be quixotic. But let's saddle up and ride. And we'll make it easy for him by leaving the cheap shots aside.

Leave aside the fact that New Orleans has existed for longer than the United States has, let alone Ohio. Leave aside the fact that New Orleans is a major port city, handles massive grain shipments, and has oil and gas refineries galone—and that the people who work for those businesses have to live where the jobs are. Leave aside that lots of working people just can't sell the house, pack up, and leave—especially if they'd be leaving family behind. And leave aside the fact that the break in the levee at 17th Street would not have happened if Bush hadn't cut the funding for maintaining it. Or if the Republicans had spent some of the $200 billion they spent on highway pork on projects that would, you know, save lives. (Black, poor, sick, and old lives, to be sure, so presumably insufficiently blessed by God—but heck, aren't they citizens too?)

And leave aside the fact that Bush is creaming off oil royalties (back) that Louisiana itself could have used for the flood control Bush is denying them.

And let's leave aside the fact that the magic of the market hasn't sorted out a full professor who can't spell "asinine" correctly. Shoot, I thought all the freepi learned to spell that word at their mothers' knee. I mean, they'd need to, right?

Here's the fact that Professor "Spell Me 'Assinine'" Larry is missing. It's a fact that's wa-a-a-y over in Europe, so I can see how the good Professor would be ignorant of it, but still, here it is:

The Netherlands.

A remarkable aspect of the Netherlands is the flatness of the country. About half of its surface area is less than 1 m above sea level, and large parts of [the Netherlands] are actually below sea level (see map showing these areas). An extensive range of dikes and dunes protect these areas from flooding. Numerous massive pumping stations keep the ground water level in check.

Gosh, sound familiar? Of course, the Netherlands needs to maintain those dikes and pumping stations, they actually have to spend money, but it's a civil engineering project, and if the Netherlands can do it in Europe, so can this great country in Louisiana.

And why should we? Leave aside the French Quarter, jazz, the food, the fact that the people of New Orleans are American citizens who want and need our help—unlike, to pick a random example, many of the citizens of Baghdad.

Do it because it's profitable. The Netherlands has a $481.1 billion (2004 est.) economy. Just like New Orleans has always been profitable.

Surely even a winger hack like Professor Larry can understand that? Apparently not. But if Professor Larry weren't so busy tossing sandbags into the widening breach in Bush's credibility, he might have had time to do a little thinking. Maybe, who knows, some research. We should be so lucky.

By noon today, the fact-free yet extremely virulent "Blame New Orleans" meme had spread all the way from the fringe to the corridors of power, and House Speaker Denny Hastert weighed in:

WASHINGTON House Speaker Dennis Hastert says it makes no sense to spend billions of dollars to rebuild New Orleans, which is seven feet under sea level.
(via KIFY)

Right. Except the Netherlands is below sea level and has a $480 billion economy. Pop goes another Republican meme!

And then this zinger:

"[HASTERT] It looks like a lot of that place could be bulldozed."
(via AP)

All class, these Republicans. All heart. [sniff] 'S beautiful...

But we need to be very clear about what Professor Larry, Hastert, and the rest of the wingers pushing this meme are really saying here.

To do that, let's perform a simple mental substitution and replace this "natural disaster" with another kind of disaster.

When you hear "flood" think "loose nuke," and ask yourselves what the Republicans would say if a loose nuke in a shipping container took out Philly, instead of a flood taking out New Orleans?

1. Would the Republicans blame Philly for not protecting itself against a loose nuke? [In a heartbeat]

2. Would the Republicans blame the citizens of Philly [or New York, or Boston, or Seattle, or San Francisco, or Los Angeles, or even Houston] for living in an area that was vulnerable to nuclear attack by terrorists? [Bien sur!]

3. Would the Republicans be willing to spend "their" tax dollars to clean up and rebuild Philly after a nuclear attack, or would they prefer to "bulldoze" it? [Don't be silly! They already stiffed New York out of billions of 9/11 money!]

So, if you live near a port city in a blue state, or know, or love someone who does, Bush and the Republicans are telling you, too, "Go die," just as they have already told the citizens of New Orleans (back)

And remember:

4. The Republicans are the ones who made us vulnerable. Just as the Republicans paved the way to disaster in New Orleans, so the Republicans are paving the way for disaster with loose nukes. The Republicans haven't protected the ports at all, and Bush's war of choice in Iraq is a training ground for urban warfare, and has made terrorism worse.. The Republicans really have painted a target on our backs—while they stand clucking outside the line of fire and congratulating each other on their courage (as usual).

And what New Orleans shows is that after they put us in danger, the Republicans will do nothing, nothing to protect us.

Why would they? We're not the base. We should go die.

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