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Sunday, August 28, 2005
It is Sunday evening, and a massive hurricane is about 180 miles south of New Orleans. The best information indicates that this storm is going to hit the city almost dead center. If you are unfamiliar with the particular geography of New Orleans, and the surrounding area, I would encourage you to read this article. It's a few years old, but it is still accurate.
The point is, it is not out of the realm of possibility that in one week's time, perhaps 100,000 Americans will be dead from this storm. Even if it is only a small percentage of this amount, it will be catastrophic. There will be no outrage. There will be no telethon. There will be no massive federal bureaucracy created to move vulnerable Americans away from this dangerous stretch of coast. Available national guard troops will be mobilized to gather up bodies and attempt a cleanup of devastated areas, which may not be inhabitable for at least six months. Insurance companies will file bankruptcy, and the government will once again bail out industrial interests.
What am I getting at? On September 11th, 2001, three thousand Americans were murdered by terrorists, in an event that, to be fair, was not likely to have been prevented. We shall see what happens this week, but sadly, the carnage of 9/11 will be multiplied many times over along the Gulf Coast. It may be entirely similar to the horrors that followed the tsunami that hit Asia last December. We have spent, between creating a new Cabinet-level agency, and fighting a war, the better part of one trillion dollars to avenge the deaths of, and prevent further killing of Americans in the United States.
The deaths that will occur in the American south over the next several weeks were preventable, every single one of them. Almost nothing is spent on the type of civil defense that would be used to evacuate a city like New Orleans. The government could easily declare this area unsafe, or claim eminent domain to move people out of harm's way. We concern ourselves with remote possibilities like being killed by terrorists. It ain't gonna happen. You're a thousand times more likely to be killed in a car wreck, die of a heart attack, or be stabbed or shot by a loved one.
Our lack of perspective, and willingness to give in to the politics of fear are killing us.
posted at 6:25 PM
So, so busy
A woman named Cindy Sheehan has traveled to Crawford, Texas to speak with President Bush about the war in Iraq. W is there in the midst of a five-week vacation at his ranch, and has spent fully 20% of his presidency on holiday. I can't bitch about that; if I could get that amount of paid time off, I'd be all over it.
But who is Cindy Sheehan, and why does she want to meet with George Bush?
Cindy had a son, 24 year-old Casey, who was in the Army in Iraq, where he was killed in April of 2004. She would like a chance to ask the president, face to face, for the reason that her son had to be killed, to ask why we are still in Iraq, to ask how many more grieving mothers his policy plans to create. Even though, as of this writing, she has been waiting over six days, he has refused to meet her.
And I understand his position to a certain degree. He is the President of the United States, leader of the free world, and is a very busy man. He would never have time to meet all of the citizens whose families have paid so dear a cost for this war of choice, let alone all of the people who would want to ask him why this policy or that directive has ruined his or her life. He has a lot on his plate. Frankly, he needs a vacation.
Wait, this is so perfect. If she could just manage to somehow catch the president in Texas while he is on sabbatical, surely he could take a little bit of time to meet this woman, look her in the eye, and give her a concrete reason why she will never see her son again.
That's a hard thing to do, admittedly. I wouldn't want to do it. But this certainly fits the pattern of little George's life, always taking the easy way out, and having flunkies clean up your messes. It's what the sons and daughters of privilege enjoy, and you don't.
If he was in Washington, I would agree that he should not really feel obligated to meet Cindy Sheehan. A movie star doesn't have time to meet fans that show up at the studio, an athlete can't sign autographs for 50,000 fans that show up for a game, and the president can't have meetings with everyone that shows up at the White House. But he is on vacation.
If he had any brains, and his handlers weren't so fucking arrogant, he'd have met with her on the first day. He would have tried to explain that her son's sacrifice was not in vain, and that we are there for good and humanitarian reasons. He would have spoken to her like she was a real person, and not some stupid, mindless, knee-jerking electorate, and he might have at least soothed this poor woman, instead of making her a cause celebre'.
My guess is, eventually, he will feel compelled to do just that. This is an administration with absolutely nothing good to report. When you say to the American people that things are good because our deficit is only 350 billion dollars instead of the projected 430 billion, you have run out of positive news.
Talk to her, you stupid, self-righteous fuck. You are so busy with brush clearing? Speak with her, and answer her questions, the questions that are on the mind of all Americans. If this country wasn't so blinded by partisanship, even your supporters would have called for your impeachment by now. You may not be much of a leader, but you could try acting like a real human being just once in your life, you shit.
posted at 4:16 PM
Slacker cool pays off
Yesterday, the media was all fired up about the broadcast on Al-Jazeera of a videotape featuring al-Qaeda's #2 man Ayman Al-Zawahari (he's #4 in the CNN/USA Today poll, incidentally). He basically said that we infidels can expect more carnage along the lines of what happened in London last month.
Funny thing is, I don't care.
It's not that I am not sympathetic to the victims of terrorism. I sympathize with their families, and I would like to see the perpetrators and financiers of this mayhem jailed or killed. What I cannot generate any passion about is fear of it happening to me.
"What are you? Some kind of tough guy?"
Here's the thing: I'm nobody. No one is out to get me. I am a million times more likely to die in a car crash or be shot by a red-blooded American than I am to get within 100 miles of a terrorist incident. When the media, at the urging of this Administration, goes on and on about things like this, it is to instill fear in the citizenry. A frightened populace doesn't ask too many questions, except for, "can you protect us?"
"Of course we can! Just be prepared to give up some of your freedoms."
(And no, they can't protect you. If you've been to an airport recently, you know this.)
Once again, my great failing is that I simply decline to be frightened or intimidated. It's not really even an overt, conscious thing with me. A meteor may fall out of the sky and strike me dead, but I can't let myself worry about it. If I am in the wrong place at the wrong time, then I will die. This isn't bravery, it's just being pragmatic.
I've stated many times that I am no patriot, but I do love my country. And I would prefer to live in a nation that, while possibly less safe, still allows me every one of my Constitutionally protected rights and freedoms. I know you can't exercise them if you're dead, but I still must insist that the liberty of human beings is a more important thing than the life of any one, hundred, or even a million Americans.
I wish we didn't all believe that we are so important and special that we are being hunted down by madmen. And I, unlike most Americans, am not religious. My outlook and lack of concern are not made possible because I believe God will protect me. I was granted the greatest gift of all: Anonymity.
posted at 3:54 PM
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