Friday, September 16, 2005

Rantariffic

One of the traditional hallmarks of conservative thought is economic responsibility. Government as smaller, administrative agency - not as sprawling, omnipresent machine. So it was with a certain amount of bewilderment that I viewed President Bush's speech to the nation last night.

Where is all this money coming from? We're spending over two hundred billion dollars in Iraq, additional billions on Post-Katrina rebuilding, and cutting the taxes of the people who's money makes up a significant chunk of corporate and private change.

In addition, we're adding new, expensive, and less-than-effective wings of government (in the form of the Dept. of Homeland Security).

Now, I'm a liberal when it comes to social issues. But in terms of economics, I'm pretty conservative. Given that, I have to ask what the heck they're thinking? In World War II, Americans were asked to ration for their country, and they did so. Nowadays, we're told to go out and buy things. Granted, this keeps the wheels of commerce turning but it requires little-to-no sacrifice from your average joe. And it seems counterintuitive in the extreme to cut taxes for the highest earners in a time of war.

I am, and always have been, bad with numbers. So perhaps, in the elevated theoretical world of political economics, this makes perfect sense. But in the world of the average citizen, it seems strikingly misguided to be spending at this rate and at this amount; let alone to do so without requiring some sacrifice from the people who can arguably afford to make a greater push in this time of uncertainty.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Retro Rocket: The Hulk

My look back at Ang Lee's HULK film is up now at Retro Rocket. It's the best one I think I've done so far, so head over and check it out why don'tcha?

Double Plus Ungood

Americablog points out Michael Brown's interview with the NYTimes, and highlights this juicy little nugget:

Mr. Brown acknowledged that he had been criticized for not ordering a complete evacuation or calling in federal troops sooner. But he said the storm made it hard to communicate and assess the situation."Until you have been there," he said, "you don't realize it is the middle of a hurricane."

Errr....what???

Someone Should Tell the Family Research Council

There is no scientific basis for concluding that lesbian mothers or gay fathers are unfit parents on the basis of their sexual orientation. . . . On the contrary, results of research suggest that lesbian and gay parents are as likely as heterosexual parents to provide supportive and healthy environments for their children. . . . Overall, results of research suggest that the development, adjustment, and well-being of children with lesbian and gay parents do not differ markedly from that of children with heterosexual parents.

4 8 15 16 23 42

Lost is almost upon us, and AICN has a review up of the premiere episode, "Man of Science, Man of Faith." Not much to go on, but then, the season's almost upon us.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Senate Isn't All That Interested In Preventing Another Katrina-esque Mess

WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate Republicans on Wednesday scuttled an attempt by Sen. Hillary Clinton to establish an independent, bipartisan panel patterned after the 9/11 Commission to investigate what went wrong with federal, state and local governments' response to Hurricane Katrina...Clinton got only 44 votes, all from Democrats and independent Sen. Jim Jeffords of Vermont. Fifty-four Republicans all voted no.

Read the rest of this article HERE. Interesting, no?

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

The Byrd Is The Word

UPDATE!

It's been pointed out to me that Byrd (is?) a virulent racist. I can't say that there's anything good about that. But if we judged every politician by their past acts, all of them would be guilty. After all, Bush is a former drug user and Washington and Jefferson were slaveholders. This is not to excuse Byrd's thoughts or writings, but to point out that many politicians that are otherwise well regarded have some significant skeletons in the proverbial closet. Byrd's words here remain potent and powerful.

If Katrina has any redeeming impact, it must be to cause us to see ourselves as others must surely see us. I regret to say that the picture cannot be a pretty one. That image is certainly not one that reflects the humanitarian goodness and morality of the vast majority of the American people. The perception of the United States in these troubled times should be a cause of major concern for everyone who holds public office. Regardless of political party, it is time to look at where we are, and where we are going.

Few would now argue that the war in Iraq has improved the world's view of the United States. It was an unnecessary and ill-conceived conflict which distracted us from our proper course of bombing the terrorist training grounds of Afghanistan. I have never bought the absurd claim by some that we are fighting terrorists in Iraq so we will not have to fight them here at home. That claim is a non sequitur at best and, at worst, a patent distortion of what has happened in Iraq. The war in Iraq created a hot bed of terrorism where none existed before. And it insured Osama bin Laden an endless supply of recruits, now even more fanatic in their hatred after scandals at Abu Ghraib, and the destruction of so many innocent lives in Iraq as a result of our invasion.

Read his speech HERE. I'm honestly impressed. A conservative, bible-bearing Senator from the south with whom I appear to share many of the same beliefs. Is this opposite day?

Accountability At Last?

Well, color me shocked.

WASHINGTON -
President Bush said Tuesday that "I take responsibility" for failures in dealing with Hurricane Katrina and said the disaster raised broader questions about the government's ability to respond to natural disasters as well as terror attacks.

"To the extent the federal government didn't fully do its job right, I take responsibility," Bush said.


Good for you, George. This administration has steered far away from any measure of accountability since its installation five years ago. Admitting to fault in this instance does not show weakness, it shows strength of character. The government screwed up, and you'd have to be lobotomized not to think so. So I give our President big ups for having the balls to take responsibility for the mess they've helped to intensify.

But (and there's always a but, it seems) this really ticks me off:

Are we capable of dealing with a severe attack? That's a very important question and it's in the national interest that we find out what went on so we can better respond, Bush replied.

That's a question that should have been answered immediately following 9-11. Hurricane Katrina was a predicted phenomenon that gave our country days in which to prepare. If this had instead, God above forbid, been a terrorist attack, how much less prepared would we have been?

We've spent billions on Homeland Security, disaster relief measures, and other post-9/11 necessities, and yet the response the people of New Orleans recieved in the wake of Katrina seemed to echo a world in which 9/11 never happened. A world in which the government seemed shocked and utterly unprepared for a disaster of this magnitude despite the ample warnings and plentiful time with which to plan.

It's well and good and right that Bush take some measure of responsibility for failing the country in his response. A good president should do this. But more important is what he does now. He needs to demand the same responsibility from the people around him, and work to insure that this cannot happen with such blistering incompetence again.

This is also true of state and local officials. Their willingness to play Bush's dreaded "blame game" despite their own incompetence is head-shakingly selfish and transparent. The silver lining on all of this, is the way it illustrates how we as a country of average citizens can still affect our government and its behavior. People are genuinely pissed about this mess, and our elected officials have sat up and taken notice. If we as a country would express our pleasure and displeasure more often, I think we'd find that the government as a whole would respond.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Inevitable Return of the Great White Dope

So, Kansas City was a good, interesting, rewarding experience for everyone.
I finally had myself some honest-to-god genuine barbeque, and I'm still tasting it 24 hours later. Contrary to what you'd think, this is a good thing. I've brought home two varieties of bbq sauce, hot and regular, and intend to baste something as soon as possible.

It's a beautiful place, and the people couldn't be nicer or more engaging. They also couldn't be more different from NYer's if they were trying really hard. It really is a different world, philosophically, in "Flyover country" as snide people like to label it. A part of me really wishes I lived somewhere as comfortable, homey, and "small" (everyone seems to know everyone else) as KC. But I don't know how welcome I and my wacky liberal beliefs would be. Actually, I do know, and the answer seems to be "not very."

There's a lot to love about Kansas City, and I'm sure that were I to live somewhere like it, I'd find my clique of weird little people to spend my time with, but NY offers so much that I think I'd genuinely miss.

I prefer my life a lot more colorful and a lot less predictable. I like waking up not knowing if I'll be going to a museum, seeing a punk-thrash band over at the mercury bar, or eating thai next to lesbian australians. It makes life interesting.