The Lies of the Right Wing Exposed by Hurricane Katrina

Friday, September 2, 2005

By: Lowell
Published On: 9/2/2005 1:00:00 AM

Let's just review a few of the main lies* perpetuated by the right wing that have been exposed and obliterated by Hurricane Katrina:
*The private sector is the answer to everything: Yeah right, let's see profit-only-motivated WalMart and ExxonMobil respond to an event of this magnitude, even if they wanted to)
*The government is the problem, not the solution: Only if you believe that victims of natural disasters should be allowed to fend for themselves, while civil order breaks down into disorder and chaos.
*Environmental protection costs more money than it's worth: Only if you believe that it's better to spend hundreds of billions of dollars (not to mention the massive economic dislocation caused around the country) on trying to recover from a disaster like Hurricane Katrina than a few billion dollars to protect wetlands and barrier islands that could have prevented or significantly mitigated the damage.  Duh!
*We can give huge tax cuts to rich people and corporations, fight an endless war in Iraq, run up huge debts, overextend our military to the breaking point, and STILL manage to deal with problems and natural disasters in our own country.  Uh, no.
*George W. Bush may not be a great visionary or intellectual, but at least he's a strong leader who knows where he's taking the country  Sorry, try again.  This Hurricane showed Bush as a President who has pitiful leadership abilities any way you look at it.  This guy is certainly no Ronald Reagan, who I will never forget speaking to the country (and bringing tears into and out of my eyes!) after the Challenger disaster.  And he is certainly no FDR, who rallied the nation both morally and politically/economically from the brink of collapse and fascism during the Great Depression.  Sorry, Republicans, but George W. Bush is no leader.  Never has been (except for that brief moment after 9/11 when he appeared to wake from his life-long stupor). Never will be.
*Global warming is bulls***:  Sure, except that a recent scientific study in the journal Nature found that "The duration and strength of hurricanes have increased by about 50 percent over the last three decades" as ocean waters get warmer, along with the rest of the planet.  Hmmm....
*One-Party (Republican) government is a good thing:  Wrong again.  Instead, how about a few "checks and balances" on either party's arrogance, stupidity, short-sightedness and craziness?  Unfortunately, right now we've got essentially one-party rule in this country.  That's got to change all across the country, starting in Virginia this November.
*We can maintain our gas guzzling way of life forever:  Sure, if we want to spend $3 per gallon and send the proceeds to Saudi Arabia, Libya, Venezuela et al.
*We don't need to deal with racism in this country, because it's all a thing of the past.  Right, then please explain to me why the pictures I see on TV and in the newspaper are overwhelmingly black?
*The economy's doing great, and there's no problem with income inequality or a permanent underclass in this country.  Right, then please explain to me why the pictures I see on TV and in the newspaper are overwhelmingly of poor people?
*Guns are great, let's hand 'em out to everyone:  Yep, so they can shoot at helicopters like they did yesterday in New Orleans.  Wonderful.
*God protects the innocent and punishes the wicked; there is justice in the world:  Yeah, explain that to the conservative, Bush-voting, God-fearing citizens of Mississippi and Louisiana, two of the "reddest of red states" in America, who just had a Category 5 hurricane rock their worlds.
Now, all this is certainly not to argue that the Democratic Party is perfect.  Far from it.  In fact, I'm all for abolishing "Duveger's Law," as Kenton "Can't Believe He's 14 Years Old!" Ngo writes about so perceptively on his blog.  For the time being, however, we've got two parties in this country, one of which happens to be in power - unfortunately.  And that party, the Neocon-Theocrat Republican Party, has proven itself, over the past 5 years, to be a complete and miserable failure.  To paraphrase Virginia's own junior Senator, George Allen, perhaps what we need to do - figuratively speaking, of course - is to "enjoy knocking [the right wingers'] sharp teeth down their snarling throats."  Hey, you gotta start somewhere!
*Note:  some of the ideas for this piece were borrowed from a great diary at DailyKos, but I was just about to write almost the exact same thing myself...been thinking about this for days.  Still, thanks to "Leaves on the Current" - I recommended your diary and hope it stays in the "Recommend" area for a long while!

Blogging Summit Summary

Saturday, August 27, 2005

By: Lowell
Published On: 8/27/2005 1:00:00 AM

I got back a little while ago after a full day at the Sorensen Institute's "Summit on Blogging and Democracy in the Commonwealth."  It was a fascinating day spent with about 60-70 bloggers (including RaisingKaine colleagues Josh, Teddy, Brian and Kenton), reporters, and politicians -- past, present, and future.  Topics included: 1)  "The State of Political Leadership in Virginia" by Sean O'Brien of the Sorensen Institute; 2) "Bloggers and the Campaign Finance Disclosure Act" by Chris Piper of the State Board of Elections; 3) "Common Ground" by Mark Rubin of the McCammon Group; 4) an absolutely superb presentation by Ken Stroupe, Chief of Staff at the University of Virginia Center for Politics and the Director of the National Youth Leadership Initiative; and 5) "Blog Ethics and Regulation: Towards Developing a Blogging Code of Conduct."
I found it all interesting, but I probably learned the most from Ken Stroupe, the former Communications Director and Press Secretary for George Allen.  Stroupe spoke about Virginia legend Harry Byrd,  who basically ran the state during the first half of the 20th century, and Byrd's version of "The Virginia Way," which to some extent we are still living with today.
What on earth IS the Virginia Way?  Before the Summit, I've got to say I knew little about it, although I had certainly heard the term.  After listening to Stroupe, however, my head was swimming with phrases like "hatred of public debt," "pay as you go," "machine politics," "poll taxes and literacy tests aimed at preventing blacks from voting," "Dillon's Rule," and "massive resistance to school desegregation."  Fascinating stuff, and in some ways not a pretty picture at all.  But this is our state's history, and I believe it gave many of the issues that have come up during the current gubernatorial campaign some much-needed perspective.
The death of Harry Byrd in 1966 spelled the beginning of the end of the Byrd version of "The Virginia Way."  Since then, Virginia has experienced massive changes.  I learned, for instance, about the end of one-party Democratic rule, and the rise of the Republican Party in Virginia.  I learned about Virginia's shift from a rural to a suburban and even an exurban state.  And I learned about the decline in civic engagement over the past few decades, with emphasis on the danger this poses to our Democracy.  According to Stroupe, turning over the functions of government to rule by referendum -- as Jerry Kilgore proposes to do -- is definitely NOT the answer.  In fact, Stroupe spoke scornfully of imposing such a "California style system" on Virginia.  I couldn't agree more.
On the issue of civic engagement, today's summit in Charlottesville was a hopeful sign.  The fact that 60 or so private citizens spent a whole day, on their own dime, to talk about the state of blogging and politics in Virginia, definitely demonstrates that people can get involved if they want to do so.  Among participants today were most of the political bloggers in Virginia, from right-wing conservatives to left-wing liberals.  For me, it was fascinating to meet these people and to participate in a discussion where people disagreed, but were never disagreeable.  Kudos to the Sorensen Institute for organizing this event, and hats off particularly to Waldo Jaquith and his fiancee Amber Capron.  Great job.
The next question, of course, is what next?  We'll see what happens in coming weeks, but I am definitely hopeful that the Virginia political blogosphere can be a leader in ratcheting up the stature and respectability of political blogs in general.  It's hard to know, of course, given that the medium is so new and also that it is evolving and expanding so rapidly.  However, that also makes it exciting.  Just looking around the room today demonstrated the youth and energy being poured into Virginia politics by today's cyber-citizen-activists.  The only thing I would have liked to have seen was more diversity, particularly more African Americans and Hispanics.  Perhaps that is something that will start to change in coming months and years, along with a move towards a true "Blogger Code of Ethics."  I certainly hope so, on both counts.