Incite -- (v) 1: give an incentive; 2: provoke or stir up; "incite a riot"; 3: urge on; cause to act
Saturday, September 03, 2005

Sinking to the occasion
Written by: Beck

Do you remember the reaction of the country after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001? I do. I can remember Al Gore stepping in front of a camera and announcing that the nation needed to rally together, that it wasn't a time for politics. The whole country came together; moreover, we knew who was to blame: the people who had flown airplanes into buildings.

Later there would be time for mumbling about root causes, pointing of fingers, and debating whether the attacks could have been prevented. Questions were to be asked of the F.B.I., the C.I.A., the Bush administration, the Clinton administration... scholars would even argue that mishandled Middle East foreign policy as far back as the Carter administration & earlier were all contributory. Ultimately, though, no one (at least no one worth listening to) forgot that ultimate blame rested with the terrorists themselves.

If parents do a poor job of raising their child and that child later grows into a murderer, the parents are certainly guilty of a degree of contributory negligence, but the moral responsibility ultimately rests on the shoulders of the person who pulled the trigger.

As such, I am astonished, dismayed, and disgusted by the reaction to the disaster following hurricane Katrina. Much like after September 11, there will be time to analyze what could have been done differently, to ask whether the magnitude of the disaster could have been lessened, and yes, to lay some blame. But right now, isn't it time for the country once again to be pulling together? Shouldn't we be focused on helping those desperately in need of help? What's more, shouldn't we try to remember that ultimately, this tragedy was caused by a hurricane? A force of nature. An act of God. So I ask you, what the fuck is wrong with people who feel the overwhelming need to score political points at a time like this?!?

Was the Bush administration supposed to turn the hurricane from its path? Should we have expected them to defy the laws of space and time, causing a massive relief effort to materialize instantly, delivering shelter, warm beds, sanitation, food, water, and other necessities to tens of thousands of people cut off on an island where all the outlying infrastructure has been destroyed?

What the fuck is wrong with people who can look at hundreds--perhaps thousands--of dead, tens of thousands of the newly homeless, hundreds of thousands of displaced people, and the first thing they can think to contribute is vile, bitter spewing about politics?

I've always held something of a feeling of disgust for the many institutions that constitute and support modern government. Be they bureaucrats, politicians, lobbyists, or any other of the vast array of individuals and institutions that exist only because of the Government, they always fill me with feelings of mistrust. I've never understood why someone would want to work for the government, and I've never trusted people who strive to attain elected office. Gone are the days when people viewed public service as an obligation incumbent upon responsible citizens. Gone are the days of people like Anson Jones (the last president of the Republic of Texas) who refused to campaign for the presidency, arguing that such behavior was inappropriate for someone who sought to serve rather than be served.

Then there are those--like, for instance, myself--who spend a great deal of their time talking about politics. Arguing. Discussing. Debating. And considering the state of modern-day politics, to endorse any particular side, to support a party or a position, one must necessarily enter into an unholy union with the very people who typically deserve little more than our collective contempt. We lower ourselves to their levels when we try to justify their actions... actions which most often ultimately can be boiled down to varying forms of state sponsored theft and/or state sponsored slavery.

But never have I been as disgusted with the level of political discourse as I have been in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina. I'll provide you with one example, though there have been hundreds in the past few days which would amply illustrate my point.

Borrowed from Protein Wisdom: in April 2005, the New York Times editorial board observed:
Anyone who cares about responsible budgeting and the health of America’s rivers and wetlands should pay attention to a bill now before the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. The bill would shovel $17 billion at the Army Corps of Engineers for flood control and other water-related projects — this at a time when President Bush is asking for major cuts in Medicaid and other important domestic programs. Among these projects is a $2.7 billion boondoggle on the Mississippi River that has twice flunked inspection by the National Academy of Sciences… [...]

This is a bad piece of legislation
While last Thursday's New York Times offers this:
While our attention must now be on the Gulf Coast's most immediate needs, the nation will soon ask why New Orleans's levees remained so inadequate. Publications from the local newspaper to National Geographic have fulminated about the bad state of flood protection in this beloved city, which is below sea level. Why were developers permitted to destroy wetlands and barrier islands that could have held back the hurricane's surge? Why was Congress, before it wandered off to vacation, engaged in slashing the budget for correcting some of the gaping holes in the area's flood protection?
The coverage of this disaster has been packed with so many double standards, cheap shots, irrelevancies, fabrications, outright misstatements, misrepresentations, and other raw drek that I can hardly stomach it anymore.

Has the whole world gone mad?

No need to answer that, I already know.

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John Beck

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