Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Hurricane Katrina

Like everybody else, I've been watching the terrible news on the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. However, I'll confess to some impatience with people who refused to leave when a mandatory evacuation was declared. I live in an area that floods so regularly that all the houses are built up high so we can get through it without damage, and even though we usually just sit it out, when the call for "mandatory evacuation" came down because the levee threatened to break, I got myself and my kids out of there. As long as evacuation is voluntary, I'm quite content to sit it out -- the pattern of floods is very predictable, and outside of the inconvenience of being stuck in the house while the river rages around us, we do just fine.

Of course, I realize that, in a large city like that, getting out may not be so easy, and that some people don't own cars, etc. But, for the rest, what tends to happen in areas that are threatened by a recurring danger like this (after all, there are hurricanes every year in the gulf), people get complacent. They've lived through them before, and figure they can do it again. And who wouldn't prefer sit it out at home rather than huddle in a shelter? Nevertheless, sitting it out is a very bad idea when things are dangerous enough that a mandatory evacuation is declared.

Another thing that happens whenever we have a flood is that people go sightseeing, and they drive straight through flood water -- many times getting themselves stuck requiring some brave cop or national guardsman to rescue them. (Safety Rule: Never drive your car through flood water, it could be swifter and deeper than it looks. Especially never drive around flood barriers.) People indulge in the same kind of stupidity during hurricanes -- the news reported people taking their kids out to see the waves, taking pictures, etc., as the storm moved closer.

Speaking of the National Guard, those guys have my deepest respect. Even when we choose to sit out a flood, it gives me a great sense of security seeing those big trucks chugging through the flood water, knowing help is close by if it should become necessary. Right now, they are out there risking their own lives to save others; they are heros and deserve our thoughts, prayers, and support.

In fact, some prayers in general would be appropriate now. Whatever my impatience at folks who didn't heed the warnings, *nobody* deserves to be suffering what tens of thousands are now suffering down there.

Additional thought: As I watch this massive effort to evacuate the entire city of New Orleans, I can't help but wonder why there wasn't a more organized effort to get people out beforehand. They knew that many of the city's poor didn't have the means to leave -- and it certainly is easier to evacuate people ahead of time than it is when there is water all over the place!

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

PIssing Away the Conservative Moment

Since most of the folks I know in cyberspace are liberal, I like to stick something up on my blog once in a while as a reminder that the words "intelligent conservative" are not necessarily an oxymoron.

There have been rumblings for some time from the religious right, some of whom are catching on to the fact, that for all their loud and boistrous political activity for the last 25-30 years, they actually have had very little success in achieving their ends. My own guess is that after Bush, who is, after all, one of their own, even more frustration is going to set in and people are going to either drop out of political activity or become even more radicalized -- like the guy who wants Christians to move to South Carolina so it can secede and become a Christian theocracy.

However, old-style conservatives aren't real happy about Bush either. Paleocons are isolationists at heart; economic conservatives want smaller government not the government expansion that goes along with war -- I have an aunt who voted Libertarian because she's outraged about the Patriot Act. Bainbridge, in the article I've linked to above says:

It's time for us conservatives to face facts. George W. Bush has pissed away the conservative moment by pursuing a war of choice via policies that border on the criminally incompetent. We control the White House, the Senate, the House of Representatives, and (more-or-less) the judiciary for one of the few times in my nearly 5 decades, but what have we really accomplished? Is government smaller? Have we hacked away at the nanny state? Are the unborn any more protected? Have we really set the stage for a durable conservative majority?

Then, after voicing a number of complaints about the Iraq War he ends by saying:

What really annoys me, however, are the domestic implications of all this. The conservative agenda has advanced hardly at all since the Iraq War began. Worse yet, the growing unpopularity of the war threatens to undo all the electoral gains we conservatives have achieved in this decade. Stalwarts like me are not going to vote for Birkenstock wearers no matter how bad things get in Iraq, but what about the proverbial soccer moms? Gerrymandering probably will save the House for us at least through the 2010 redistricting, but what about the Senate and the White House?

You bet the soccer moms are going to vote Democrat next time -- this war could end up being a huge set-back for the Republicans, and the longer it lasts, the worse it's going to be. The high oil prices and attendant economic woes aren't going to help, either -- Americans vote their pocketbook when all is said and done. If we can't get out of Iraq while leaving a stable situation behind us, then our economy is going to be in real peril. As Juan was mentioning lately, nobody likes to think we went to war for oil(if we did, we *really* screwed up), but the fact is that gas prices have a real impact on all of our lives -- and the working class and poor that the left is supposed be supporting will feel especially pinched if the Iraq situation spirals out of control.
Politically, if the left is going to get anywhere, it's got to remember its roots are in being the champions of the working class instead of being the Party of People Not Like Us. It may never have a better opportunity than right now to get Bubba on its side.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Easing back in

Well, it's been a long, hot stressful summer but I'm moving into what has become the mellowest time of the year: the early weeks of school. Unlike full-time teachers, who are very busy, substitute teachers generally aren't called until school is well under way; I've never yet been called in August.

On the Baha'i front, there's another liberal Baha'i in trouble. A young man in Canada, who posted some essays mildly critical of the status quo, has been called to a meeting by an ABM for Protection. What's really weird is that he had barely started posting; he's just a raw newbie. This meeting is being framed as informal and friendly, which appears to be standard procedure. It may even appear so when the meeting takes place-- although some ABMs get nasty and yell and that kind of thing -- but it's the report that is made on the meeting that ends up being the worst part. The victim then gets a letter telling him that he'd better shape up or else. That's pretty much what happened to Larry Rowe, and others. Baquia has more detail on this story. He's back from his summer blogging break, too. :-)

The only general news story that has caught my attention recently has been that of Cindy Sheehan. More power to her, I say. As I've made it clear on other posts here, if it were my son that were killed, my rage would be beyond measure. However, I'm finding it interesting that as soon as a grieving parent begins to be perceived as "political", sympathy wanes. Well, of course she's political. So were Terri Shaivo's parents. So was the lady who started Mothers Against Drunk Driving. I'd be willing to bet that the majority of people who get involved in one particular political cause or another do so because of some kind of personal experience with the issue.

And for this war, in particular, where the reasons for going into it turned out to be false and where the
goals have turned out to be impossible to achieve
, it is inevitable that more anger and resentment about it are going to build up. Americans are not particularly patient people when it comes to war -- we want to get in, kick butt, and bring the boys home. Most are willing to support the president when he decides to send troops somewhere, but are not willing to support a lost cause to the last gasp. The longer this goes on, the more people are going to turn against it.