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September 5, 2005

Not An Imaginary Story
Posted by Patrick at 08:30 PM * 52 comments

From Editor and Publisher:

In a segment at the top of the show on the surge of evacuees to the Texas city, Barbara Bush said: “Almost everyone I’ve talked to says we’re going to move to Houston.”

Then she added: “What I’m hearing is they all want to stay in Texas. Everyone is so overwhelmed by the hospitality.

“And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this,”—she chuckles slightly—“this is working very well for them.”

To answer your first question: no, this is not a piece of Onion- or Daily Show-style “fake news,” or a spoof by Billmon or Michael Bérubé.

“This is working very well for them.”

I read stuff like this and just a couple of things reel me in from having a stroke, or going and getting deliberately and thoroughly drunk.

One is the excellent advice posted on this very page earlier today.

The other is this post from China Miéville, reminding us to focus first on the primary events, not just the story about the spin.

While it’s right and important to point out how unprecedented the tone of the coverage of the catastrophe has been—this is not, I think, business quite as usual—there’s a real danger, in all the hyperbolic, increasingly self-congratulatory guff about how enraged and bolshy the media has been, how it is now “saved”, of focusing on form over the content, of being meta-scandalised about the meta-scandal of how scandalised the media is.

To take a couple of examples that currently have the blogosphere aflutter. The point of this story for us shouldn’t be that Shep Smith shouted angrily at his Fox News anchor: the point should be that Shep Smith shouted angrily that the authorities were refusing to let people out, were deliberately turning them back if they make it to a checkpoint.

Or take the now-famous footage of Aaron Broussard, president of a local parish. The germane fact is not that he breaks down crying on Meet The Press, but that he breaks down crying after describing how FEMA refused his stranded community water and fuel, and then, in an astonishingly chilling flourish, cut their emergency communication lines.

MSNBC’s Meet The Press told the USA, coast to coast, that FEMA was deliberately cutting off communities from which it had withheld the resources necessary for life. The anchor then suggested that the sobbing Broussard “take a pause”, and changed the subject. Not hurriedly or defensively, but just because that wasn’t the point of the story. That I’ve seen, only one dissident reporter has stressed this fact (scroll to the 4 September report).

It isn’t enough to uncover these crimes. They’re already uncovered, naked, on the BBC, NBC, and Fox News. With all their angry focus on the “incompetence” (this could never be planned, after all), the newsreaders just know they’re not the point.

Next to this, the unselfconscious depravity of Barbara Bush is small beans. It does make me want to say and do things I’ll regret. I’m beginning to think that’s its point.
Comments on Not An Imaginary Story:
#1 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2005, 09:06 PM:

My favorite line so far in that MSNBC transcript:

"We now have to have a massive coastal restoration project where we get the water out of the Mississippi River in a controlled fashion toward the Barrier islands, restore the wetlands. If you don't commit to this plan which is this $14 billion, costs of the Big Dig in Boston, or two weeks of spending Iraq, you shouldn't fix a single window in New Orleans."

#2 ::: FranW ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2005, 09:11 PM:

Well, hell. I read this tidbit somewhere else and immediately popped here to beg you guys (who always have the straight dope) to refute it as some kind of urban legend....but no. I find you reporting that BB really, actually, truly did chuckle and say that.

I am speechless.

#3 ::: Laurie Mann ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2005, 09:22 PM:

Geesh, and remember there was a time when people thought she was the Bush with half a clue?

In "mild" fairness to Babs, I'm sure she meant to say, "Now that they've fled the catastrophe and even though they've lost their homes and maybe even some family members and friends..." but...

#4 ::: CaseyL ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2005, 09:32 PM:

People thought she was sweet because she looks matronly and co-wrote a book with a dog.

But this ranks up there with her infamous crack about not wanting to "bother [her] beautiful mind" by paying attention to war casualties.

If Bush is Nero, Babs makes a pretty good Agrippina.

#5 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2005, 09:35 PM:

Patrick, you say above: "It does make me want to say and do things I’ll regret. I’m beginning to think that’s its point."

If so, it's working:

"If one person criticizes them or says one more thing - including the president of the United States - he will hear from me," [Senator Landrieu] said on the ABC program. "One more word about it after this show airs and I might likely have to punch him. Literally."
#6 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2005, 09:35 PM:

Let's not forget she also said this:

"Why should we hear about body bags and deaths," Barbara Bush said on ABC's "Good Morning America" on March 18, 2003. "Oh, I mean, it's not relevant. So why should I waste my beautiful mind on something like that?"

She really ought to read Scalzi's "Being Poor" essay.

Come to think of it, "joining the military to better your educational possibilities" should have been on his list.

#7 ::: Anna Feruglio Dal Dan ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2005, 09:41 PM:

Yes, becuase, you know, being uprooted and carried away from the city you've lived in all your life and where you have all your relatives and friends, and the graves of your ma and da, that's just so much fun. So much fun.

And I say this as somebody who's never particularly liked the place she lived in and would gladly up and move away - but I know that there are people, bless them, whose sense of self and integrity as human beings resides not a little in where they live.

Apart from all the rest of the depravity of this clutch of heartless incompetent morons without a clue or a sense of decency, the fact that they can blissfully ignore the death of a place and culture that was beloved in all the world, and very much so by the people who had lived there, comes way way after many things, including of course the chuckling indifference to the death of several thousands of their fellow human beings. But in the end, it's there.

Yeah, let's get this underprivileged riff-raff away from their city and integrate them in some other place. After all, where's the profit in rebuilding tens of thousand of marginally decent housing for people who can hardly affort to pay the rent anyway?

#8 ::: Ter Matthies ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2005, 09:57 PM:

—“this is working very well for them.”

I took this as "them" being the evacuees, and that Mrs. Bush thought it worked for them to meet and be assisted by Houstonians they could relate to.

I'm in Houston, but I see something different, because I meet Toyota-driving soccer moms and Starbucks baristi who are volunteering.

How are other readers identifying the "them" in that sentence?

#9 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2005, 10:09 PM:

Atrios found an mp3 of her remarks. He also quotes discourse.net as hearing it this way:

What I'm hearing which is sort of scary is that they all want to stay in Texas. Everybody is so overhwlemed by the hospitality. And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway so this (chuckle)--this is working very well for them.

Note the "which is" clause isn't in the E&P story.

#10 ::: Janice Gelb ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2005, 10:12 PM:

From Editor and Publisher:

In a segment at the top of the show on the surge of evacuees to the Texas city, Barbara Bush said: “Almost everyone I’ve talked to says we’re going to move to Houston.”

Then she added: “What I’m hearing is they all want to stay in Texas. Everyone is so overwhelmed by the hospitality.

“And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this,”—she chuckles slightly—“this is working very well for them.”

Far be it from me to claim that these are sensitive comments. However, in the context of the full Marketplace interview, they're not *quite* as appalling as they seem when read without the connecting sentences. Link to Marketplace story is http://marketplace.publicradio.org/shows/2005/09/05/PM200509051.html
(it seems only to work in Internet Explorer).

#11 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2005, 10:37 PM:

"I took this as 'them' being the evacuees"

Yes, I think we all did.

"I'm in Houston, but I see something different, because I meet Toyota-driving soccer moms and Starbucks baristi who are volunteering."

Yes, it's all about the soccer moms and the baristi.

Remember, unfortunate people are nothing more than scenery against which, if we're lucky, we real people can enact our personal dramas of redemption.

#12 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2005, 10:39 PM:

"in the context of the full Marketplace interview, they're not *quite* as appalling as they seem"

As you might gather from the subsequent post, I've listened to the whole interview, and I certainly don't agree. If anything, her unbowlderized remarks reflect even more poorly on her as a human being.

#13 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2005, 10:53 PM:

Billmon has discovered it and done some Photoshop magic.

#14 ::: sennoma ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2005, 11:10 PM:

I’m beginning to think that’s its point.

Jesus Patrick. You're scaring me. If they (They) have their shit that much together, we're doomed.

Which is to say: I think her unselfconscious depravity, like that of her son and his handlers and flunkies, is just that: unselfconscious, unconscious, unscripted. These people, the Bushes of the world, are so far removed from actual humanity that they think they're entitled to such attitudes, that they betray with such comments nothing amiss.

Hanlon's razor says nothing about sociopaths in whom utter lack of empathy and complete self-absorption result in the same sorts of behaviour that one might expect from active malice.

#15 ::: Mary R ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2005, 11:25 PM:

I grew up in DC, and a friend of my mother's wound up at a fairly private social event with Barbara Bush and some of her friends. She said their conversation was truly appalling. And my mother's friend wasn't one to speak ill of anyone.

#16 ::: Janice Gelb ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2005, 11:36 PM:

As you might gather from the subsequent post, I've listened to the whole interview, and I certainly don't agree. If anything, her unbowlderized remarks reflect even more poorly on her as a human being.

I thought that given Clinton's remarks that followed, she might have been trying to say something about giving the people a future like he said, only screwing it up in her patrician way. Or, I agree, she could be this appallingly elitist and clueless.

#17 ::: Charity ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2005, 11:37 PM:

I've lived in Texas for about a decade now, and am not a native. My Texan-to-English is pretty fluent, and my guess is the "this" she's talking about isn't being flooded, losing everything, enduring inhuman conditions, etc... "this [coming to Texas, rather than any other shelter they might have ended up at] is working very well for them."

I don't think it's a socio-economic disdain she's showing... it's just the blood-deep conviction that Texas is better than anywhere else on God's green earth. It was still a shocking thing for her to say, because she should know that most of the world's population doesn't speak Texan, but I do truly think it was just her national pride showing. "Texas is a whole other country", as the tourism ads remind us, and in and of itself a good reason why a native Texan should never be president of the USA.

#18 ::: S. Dawson ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2005, 11:43 PM:

I was at the Reliant Arena (one of the smaller shelters in the Astrodome complex) yesterday sorting donated goods. And you know, in spite of what Barbara Bush said, in spite of the fact that I realize this is about the people who've lost everything and not about me or my feelings, in spite of the fact that I saw a lot of inefficiency and some fraying nerves among Red Cross workers and some very downtrodden, traumatized people who still need a lot more help, I am proud of my city. I am proud that we are meeting people's basic needs and starting to get them into apartments, and I am proud that so many people want to volunteer that they're being turned away.

I have never been proud of my city before. I'm not about to let Barbara Bush make me ashamed.

#19 ::: Lizzy Lynn ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2005, 11:49 PM:

Charity: You may be right, but the woman is clueless. This is not the moment to say nice things about Texas, this is the moment to express compassion and if possible concern for the people who have just been cut adrift from their own lives. She doesn't get it. If you can't see it as disdain, okay -- see it as a complete lack of understanding, or even a failure of imagination. She is not capable of stepping out of her own skin. I would feel sorry for her if her son were not President and if people with precisely her absence of empathy were not running the country.

I live almost on top of an earthquake fault, and am the caregiver for my 86 year old mother, who is frail and sick. I see nothing to hope for in the attitudes of these people.

#20 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2005, 11:51 PM:

a native Texan should never be president of the USA

Currently, a native Texan isn't.

#21 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2005, 11:52 PM:

Wait, I'm not sure I'm willing to give up on all "native Texans."

I mean, native Texans wrote this. They can't be all bad. I rest my case.

#22 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2005, 11:56 PM:

Indeed,. pericat. Two Presidents were "native Texans." Neither of them was named Bush.

#23 ::: Ter Matthies ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2005, 11:57 PM:

Remember, unfortunate people are nothing more than scenery against which, if we're lucky, we real people can enact our personal dramas of redemption.

I promise not to comment again, as I don't understand the point of the post or followup comments.

I apologize if I've offended anyone.


#24 ::: Lizzy Lynn ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2005, 12:13 AM:

Ter: It's late almost everywhere, and we're all tired and heartsore and angry...

#25 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2005, 01:46 AM:

Since that link Patrick posted has the tablature, I may have to break out my long-stored guitar. That's funny.

#26 ::: Fernmonkey ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2005, 03:52 AM:

Remember, unfortunate people are nothing more than scenery against which, if we're lucky, we real people can enact our personal dramas of redemption.

I was having an argument with an Objectivist on another board along exactly these lines yesterday.

#27 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2005, 07:22 AM:

Thanks for the song link--that story in the "take care of yourself" thread about the deer world was too subtle for my mood, but some simple straightforward snarking was a lot of fun.

As for whether all this was done on purpose, I think holding up the aid for hurricane relief is mass murder, but even I don't believe that Bush would have a major port destroyed in order to kill some poor people. Not even if they're black. Maybe not even if Halliburton gets reconstruction contracts.

#28 ::: chris ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2005, 09:47 AM:

a native Texan should never be president of the USA.

But I get quite sentimental about LBJ as the years go by.

#29 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2005, 09:54 AM:

“And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this,”—she chuckles slightly—“this is working very well for them.”

I can only see one way to read the above part of her statement: life as a refugee in a Texas sports arena is better than the normal life of the poor. The implication is that "these people" want to stay because this is pretty much the Ritz, compared to the way they lived before.

Bitch.

#30 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2005, 09:56 AM:

Ter, don't stop posting just because Patrick got a little crunchy. He does that.

#31 ::: cicada ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2005, 11:15 AM:

Not sure if anyone has posted this link yet (I'm trying to keep up, honest!) but apparently a bunch of college kids decided to load up their 2-wheel-drive Hyundai with bottled water and go rescue people:
http://www.herald-sun.com/durham/4-643298.html

'"Anyone who knows that area, if you had a bus, it would take you no more than 20 minutes to drive in with a bus and get these people out," Buder said. "They sat there for four or five days with no food, no water, babies getting raped in the bathrooms, there were murders, nobody was doing anything for these people. And we just drove right in, really disgraceful. I don't want to get too fired up with the rhetoric, but some blame needs to be placed somewhere."'

#32 ::: Madeleine Robins ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2005, 11:27 AM:

I've always found Barbara Bush the scariest member of the family--a pirhana with pearls. I am saddened and disgusted that she could say such a thing, and frankly startled (I thought she had more smarts than to display her callousness this obviously) but not surprised that she thinks life in the Astrodome is a step up for the poor. In my mind, she's the "nurture" explanation for how our president Got This Way.

Note: this has nothing to do with the generosity and hard work of the people who are trying to make the refugees comfortable. This is about the tone-deaf callousness of privilege.

#33 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2005, 11:51 AM:

This is about the tone-deaf callousness of privilege.

I find the people who are running this country, with some exceptions, to be remarkably word-blind (or tone-deaf) in that they seem to have no clue how their speeches sound to the audience outside the hall (those inside having been carefully chosen for their willingness to go along with the whole thing). How else can you explain the Shrub's surprise, very early on, to find that people outside the US reacted with anger to his axis-of-evil speeches before 9/11?

#34 ::: Chris Clarke ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2005, 02:54 PM:

Remember, unfortunate people are nothing more than scenery against which, if we're lucky, we real people can enact our personal dramas of redemption.

Thank you, Patrick.

#35 ::: Patrick Weekes ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2005, 03:10 PM:

I'll repeat what I said in the other thread. There are better sources for outrage than this. If you read what she said, it's equally plausible that what she found scary was the fact that things are so bad for the refugees that living in the Astrodome seems like a big step up for them.

Even if that's not what she meant, that's what they're going to fall back on.

But thank goodness we've got Patrick here to rip on anyone who interpreted an ambiguous statement with anything less than the outrage he demands. That's what's important right now.

There are better battles to fight than this one. Roaring about this will, at most, result in pundits arguing over what Barbara Bush really meant, at which point she will clarify her point to something much less inflammatory, and the liberals will shout that that's not what she meant in the first place, and the conservatives will say that the liberals are trying to take advantage of this tragedy to make personal political attacks, and everyone will have a good self-righteous venting session while, you know, nothing changes.

I mean, I kind of thought that this website, with all the links and information, might be actually trying to make a change of some sort. If this is just the place for people to read their own interpretations into public announcements and get all aggrieved, that's fine, and I wish you the best of luck.

But attacking an ambiguous statement made by a former first lady isn't going to help change anything.

#36 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2005, 06:23 PM:

Patrick Weekes, when Barbara Bush lived here in DC, she was well-known for her "ambiguous" and "misquoted" words.

#37 ::: Patrick Weekes ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2005, 06:45 PM:

Marilee, putting something in quotes doesn't magically mean that you know what was going through her mind, and what she was saying. It would be wonderful if it did. It makes complete sense to me that a person who says one misinterpretable thing is going to say other misinterpretable things. All your sentence tells me is that people down where you live decided to treat anything Barbara Bush said as suspect and assume that she was being racist, sexist, or elitest when she said it. You might well be right, but that doesn't help advance the cause of truth and righteousness any.

Ironically, the whole point of PNH's post was that there were more important issues to deal with than the former first lady saying something that could possibly be interpreted as racist, elitest, or stupid. And we've lost that, because folks are angry and want a target to vent their spleen at, and conservatives are very good at giving us a nice convenient spleen-venting target so that we all rail at that and get sidetracked from the real issues and don't actually end up changing things.

Thank goodness we can put stuff in quotes, though.

#38 ::: Jenny K ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2005, 06:46 PM:

Patrick Weekes,

Yeah there are better sources for outrage than this. Last I checked this website in particular has been all over several of them.

But one of the big questions as to why this all happened is the extent to which indifference and prejudice played a part in leaving the poorest and least able bodied behind to suffer and often die.

This is a question that needs to be answered, not to place blame (although I have plenty I want to spread around) but because if it did play a part (and it seems pretty obvious to me that it played some part at least in terms of lack of preparation) than we need to know so that we can begin to address the problem.

Mrs. Bush's quote speaks directly to this question.

btw - If you haven't heard the quote yet, I suggest you do so. IMHO, the way she said it says as much as what she said. I was shocked when first read the quote, then shocked a second time when I heard it on TV.

#39 ::: Patrick Weekes ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2005, 07:01 PM:

Jenny, that's a legitimate point. Maybe I'm just cynical, though, because I don't think that's one we're gonna be able to prove. We'll be able to prove it well enough to yell to ourselves that those people are racist, but I sincerely doubt we will be able to prove it so concretely that even neoconservatives will believe that Bush delayed federal response not just because he was disorganized, not just because he was incompetent, but because he was trying to screw over the poor.

I just feel like this is being held up as a red flag to draw our attention away so that nobody thinks to keep asking the simple questions about why the government ignored what everyone they hired to do the research was saying would happen, and why they took so long to react when everyone with net access or cable TV saw what was going on. We're not going to nail them to the wall as hating poor people. They're gonna wriggle on that one.

We can nail them to the wall on incompetence, though. And that might actually do some damage.

#40 ::: Jenny K ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2005, 08:45 PM:

Patrick Weekes,

I think you still may be missing the point. The issue is not so much that Bush is deliberately trying to screw the poor, but that America in general, and people like the Bush's in particular, have been so indifferent to the suffering around us that we have though nothing of letting it get to this point.

I cheered when Kayne West said what he did not so much because I think that Bush doesn't care enough about black people in particular but that America, through its actions, demonstrates that it cares very little about so many people. And until people are brave enough to point that out, despite whomever it may anger, we will not be able to do anything about it.

Nailing the administration on incompetence is important, and easier, and needs to happen. But if that's all we do, then all that will happen is the suburbs will be safer, and most of America will still be left behind.

#41 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2005, 11:13 AM:

To reiterate: The germane fact is not that he breaks down crying on Meet The Press, but that he breaks down crying after describing how FEMA refused his stranded community water and fuel, and then, in an astonishingly chilling flourish, cut their emergency communication lines.

I don't know details of Louisiana law, but in New York, that's not just vandalism, it's depraved indifference to human life, and murder charges against the people who did it, and whoever gave the orders to do so, if anyone died of hunger or thirst in that parish after that point.

I believe the New Orleans district attorney should be preparing indictments against the heads of FEMA and Homeland Security on charges of at least criminally negligent homicide--the image of them trying to bargain it down to manslaughter is darkly amusing--and possibly depraved indifference. They withheld food and water from hungry, thirsty refugees. They knew, or should have known, the effects of that.

There are witnesses--many of them relatives and neighbors--who can testify to those deaths, to the identities of those who died, and to when they died.

No wonder Bush doesn't want us seeing the bodies: they're evidence of crimes by his cronies.

#42 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2005, 11:35 AM:

Vicki --

Which is why it becomes an objective to make sure they all die, or are all displaced very far away, where they don't have much standing as witnesses and where the local DA doesn't want to know.

The other thing is that there are, have to be, tens of thousands of dead along the whole Gulf Coast. There is no particular reason I can think of that there aren't a hundred thousand dead, or more.

Which is why the 'no cameras' rule; can't have the pictures showing up on the evening news.

#43 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2005, 12:05 PM:

Graydon, see upthread about the elite's cluelessness about how what they do looks to everyone else. They think they can afford to leave witnesses. They may be taking a lesson from Rwanda. I'm hoping they're wrong. It's clear that some large proportion of the country doesn't want mass death for the Gulf Coasters.

Does anyone have a coherent theory about what's happening? I'm still betting on impulsive greed and irresponsibility for most of this, but withholding aid goes beyond that.

Is it just that some people will kill the helpless when they think they can get away with it? We're not even talking about the personal satisfactions of battle madness or serial killing here.

#44 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2005, 12:10 PM:

Nancy --

You've already got mass death. Three days with no water is all it takes.

If someone in a position of power is a sociopath, the deaths of others have no meaning; any number of them are perfectly acceptable if they personally can avoid blame by this means.

Getting indicted does register, even with the elite, and especially if the situation is serious. So they will act to avoid that.

#45 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2005, 12:25 PM:

Does anyone have a coherent theory about what's happening?

Utter incompetence by the people at the very top.

Check out FEMA's chain of command:

After the unqualified and incompetent Joseph Allbaugh went on to bigger and better things, first working on Bush's reelection campaign then bringing smiles to faces all over Iraq, we got his old college roommate Michael Brown as director of FEMA.

Brown's previous job had been overseeing horse shows, a position from which he had been fired for supervisory failures. The only tiny glimmer of hope is that, many years before, he had had some acquaintance with emergency planning as an assistant city manager (Edmonton, OK, 1975-78).

The next two guys in the FEMA chain of command were even shakier: The Chief of Staff is Patrick Rhode, whose qualifications are that he helped plan events for Bush's election campaign.

The Deputy Chief of Staff is Scott Morris. His qualifications for being in charge of emergency management are that he produced Bush's campaign commercials.

There's a big part of the problem: Three weak links right at the top of the chain. What do they have in common? Let me see....

#46 ::: Laura Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2005, 01:03 PM:

Very petty and personal comment:

I started a blog recently. Didn't intend to write about politics at all, because there are so many excellent, non-excellent, and vociferous political blogs out there already.

But this has finally gotten to me and I had to write something. Still, it's not a political issue, really. It's about . . . humanity? Decency?

I don't know what else to say.

#47 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2005, 01:23 PM:

Incompetent amiable conmen schmucks all the way down.

Incompetents who hire their compatriots.

#48 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2005, 02:00 PM:

Graydon, I think you're disagreeing with the "will" in my point. I'm quite aware that a large number of people were killed by the denial of aid. I think I used "will" to indicate a general point about some people rather than tying it hard to the current situation.

I think you're right that indictments would have a salutary effect and I hope to see them.

#49 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2005, 07:12 PM:

Patrick Weekes, Barbara Bush's words were clear. It was the WH spokesman who was using words like "not clear" or "misquoted," even when there was video showing it wasn't.

#50 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2005, 12:21 PM:

From CNN.com:
Word trickling out about some parishes

St Bernard and Plaquemines parishes

#51 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2005, 01:18 PM:

Laura: Humanity and decency are what politics (to my mind) are all about. It's about spreading the decency around, seeing the shared humanity and acting on it.

I prefer Locke to Hobbes, and work to that end.

#52 ::: Laura Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2005, 01:53 PM:

Terry: not disagreeing with you at all, but in practice it seems that "politics" means "looking out for number one," whether that be oneself or one's perceived constituency - the members of one's own tribe.

But as you suggested, "seeing the shared humanity" means believing that all human beings are members of the same tribe, and constructing one's politics accordingly.

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