Campus personalities present and past Rebecca C. Brown and Tommaso Sciortino tackle the issues. This week on a very special CalJunket: Rebecca learns not to chew with her mouth open and Tommaso finds out his best friend is addicted to no-doze.
Friday, September 09, 2005
Self-fulfilling ideologyThis kind of stuff is amazing. It's always been clear that Republicans don't believe in efficient government but it's really amazing when they start to take their own incompetence as proof. They are like the guy you have to do a class project with who keeps insisting that it's impossible and so doesn't do his part of the work and thefore ensures that it's impossible.
Well, what do you expect to happen when you vote for a president who puts a guy in charge who has no experieince and a resume thinner than than Dick Cheny's war record? (The kicker is, with all the resume padding he did, he still couldn't fake anything relavent to saving lives.)
Now of course there's a lot of things that government is bad at. Most things even. But history affords us lots of instances where disasters were handeled much better by government and lots of lessons about how private charities never manage to do as much. Not to mention the fact that coordination, which is vital in the early days of a disaster, is pretty much impossible without having someone with whom the buck stops. Ussually this is the president though modern Republicans seem to act as if lots of people who work in Bush's office (like Rumsfeld and Cheney and Micheal Brown) just kinda showed up without the presidents approval or anything. If only Batiushka, the little father, the Czar knew!
At any rate, I certainly wish the fine men and women of RedState would stop calling liberals "human filth" long enough to actually look at the issue and compare the federal response to other disasters. Disasters where people who believed in sound government were in charge. It's funny that conservatives didn't dare admit that government has no obligation to people that were dying by the thousands then. Probably becuase an idea so stupid wouldn't pass the giggle test unless the government had failed as badly as a only a modern Republican government can.
Oh! If we got government out of the rescue business does that mean that we get to turn down the offer's of aid from other governments too?
Update: This argument against privatized disaster relief is much better than anything I could write.
I recall hearing that prior to the establishment of municipal fire departments in the latter part of the 19th century, people wanting fire services had to purchase them from private companies. There were many problems of course. For example, if your neighbor didn't have the money to buy such a service and his house burned, nobody showed up to fight it, thus endangering your house. Also, different companies had different equipment. Assuming that there was some sort of hydrant into which a fire company could tap, the connections for different companies could differ. Thus one companies hoses didn't necessarily fit another company's hydrant; so your company might not be able to fight a fire efficiently even if they arrived promptly. Then of course there were the scam companies that took money but couldn't or wouldn't provide service.
The result was that municipal, tax-supported, government managed fire departments developed; and we no longer have private fire fighting businesses in municipal areas. Are our fire services perfect? Absolutely not, but they are superior to the private alternatives they replaced.
The Bush administration's starvation of FEMA over the past five years, and focus on propaganda over effective planning illustrates at least some of the obvious problems with Karl Rove's stated desire to return the government to the time of William McKinley.
It's true. Municipal fire departments are truely not neccesarry as BAD might say (although he may or may not follow it up with "and so government shouldnt' do it". It just depends on the day of the week and the mood he's in at the time).
I remember reading about the first private fire services in ancient Rome. They would pull up to a burning house and offer to put out the fire if the owner gave them ownership of the house. If they were lucky, the victims could salvage the few possesions inside and pay the rent.
Of course, a libertarian might say that serves him right for living in the same block as a guy who uses a latern. He should have known!
I like to steal BAD's thunder:
BAD: Well, would you prefer for your roman citizen that there being no fire department at all?
Tommaso: No, I would prefer a democratic government where the people can take communial responsibility for putting out the communal problem of fires.
BAD: But you're still not answering my question!
Tommaso: I would still be against private fire departments in the context of ancient Rome since they all used slave labor.
BAD: Well let's say they didn't.
Tommaso: Well, if instead of being worked by slaves the pumps were being worked by 3 year old children I would still oppose it.
BAD: Love me!
Well, if you check out the response to the midwest floods of 1993 and to the Tsunami you see that quick government response is the norm. A day after the Tsunami the US already had a Navy ship handing out supplies and treating the sick. We had one waiting outside of New Orleans as well, they just didn't get the go ahead from FEMA to do anything.
The floods of New Orleans are a large disaster and we should certainly expect a certain degree of disarray. We certainly shoudln't expect people too poor to get out of a city to be abandoned for 5 days at the place they were told to go while the food is available. It would be one thing if the superdome was inaccsessable or if no one knew where it was. When Anderson Cooper can show up and report on it, you know we shoudl have police there by now.
Beetle said, "Which other disasters are you going to compare this to?"
It might be more productive to think about what we need to do to prepare for the next climate change related disaster.
Bill McKibben, writing at Tomdispatch.com earlier this week, said:
Consider the first problem for just a minute. No single hurricane is "the result" of global warming. But a month before Katrina hit, MIT hurricane specialist Kerry Emmanuel published a landmark paper in the British science magazine Nature showing that tropical storms were now lasting half again as long and spinning winds 50% more powerful than just a few decades before. The only plausible cause: the ever-warmer tropical seas on which these storms thrive. Katrina, a Category 1 storm when it crossed Florida, roared to full life in the abnormally hot water of the Gulf of Mexico. It then punched its way into Louisiana and Mississippi -- the latter a state now governed by Haley Barbour, who in an earlier incarnation as a GOP power broker and energy lobbyist helped persuade President Bush to renege on his promise to treat carbon dioxide as a pollutant.
In the last century, we've seen change in human societies speed up to an almost unimaginable level, one that has stressed every part of our civilization. In this century, we're going to see the natural world change at the same kind of rate. That's what happens when you increase the amount of heat trapped in the atmosphere. That extra energy expresses itself in every way you can imagine: more wind, more evaporation, more rain, more melt, more... more... more.
And there is no reason to think we can cope. Take New Orleans as an example. It is currently pro forma for politicians to announce that it will be rebuilt, and doubtless it will be. Once. But if hurricanes like Katrina go from once-in-a-century storms to once-in-a-decade-or-two storms, how many times are you going to rebuild it? Even in America there's not that kind of money -- especially if you're also having to cope with, say, the effects on agriculture of more frequent and severe heat waves, and the effects on human health of the spread of mosquito-borne diseases like dengue fever and malaria, and so on ad infinitum. Not to mention the costs of converting our energy system to something less suicidal than fossil fuel, a task that becomes more expensive with every year that passes.
I think BAD meant to ask which disasters in the past had government responses that were good.
Still though, while Conservative commentors like to claim that there is no link between hurricanes and gloabl warming, it's nice to see some are keeping open minds about the issue.
damn m@n u are obsessed wit republicans bro. seriously get a fukin life and get of dere nutz.
ur a fukin s@d dude... all ur posts are about republicans, waT dey believe waT dey do etc...?
bro im gonna go ahead and e-mail u a membership form cuz its obvious daT is watT u want.
either way u have been smashT again
btw get rdy to pay me daT 100 dollars cuz ur boy angelides is gonna get smashT in da face
Ok. If you're not going to respect others I'm going to start deleting comments. You do not have to agree with me, plenty of the commentors here don't, but if you insist on abuse instead of argument you have no place here. This is your final warning.
smashT has a point, Tommasso, this whole blog is whine whine whine about Republicans. Do you really think that Republicans mean so much that your whole blog is about how wrong the Bush administration is? I'd like to see you guys talk about a liberal idea and how you plan to take action without the use of blaming Bush. Besides, blaming Bush won't do anything. He won the 2004 election fair and square and now the Democrats should stop the bitch and whine game and start to rebuild themselves. If it's one thing that Republicans learned from the Bob Dole defeat, START A REAL AGENDA and stop blaming teh other side for everything.
The day we blame the Republicans (or any side) for a natural disaster cause by not "dealing with global warming" is the day the side making the accusations will never win another election.
Look at my posts: A liberal discussion about proper role of government in disaster management, a liberal argument for of gay marriage, a post supporting Cal for standing up for Science, a liberal defense of environmentalism, a liberal argument for Universal Healthcare.
It would be pointless to discuss these things if conservatives agreed with me - they're in power and presumably implementing their ideas. If Liberals want to make their argument anything more than an academic wonk-fest we are going to have to discuss how it leads to concretely different policy. This pretty much entails pointing out how Republicans have failed and why we would do a better job. This is no different from the way Newt Gingrich used a “scandal” in the Democratic congress along with the Contract with America to get the House.
As for the natural disaster comment, though you may be right that a political campaign that accused the opposition of contributing to a disaster by not preventing global warming might be doomed, this blog is not a political campaign. Here, we're interested in the truth. So if some scientists show that the intensity of Hurricanes may be increased by global warming, and if Republicans have been the main force stopping sound environmental policy, than it may be fair to say that the disaster is an argument against their policy prescription. And when political commentators – liberal or conservative – are wrongly telling people that they global warming has nothing to do with hurricanes well, I don’t think you can fault people for pointing out the truth. And yes, it’s ok to point out the truth even if it isn’t politically convenient.
Now personally, I recognize that the science is not definitive and that there are plenty of better ways to make the argument for sound stewardship of the environment, but I don’t think you should heap scorn on those who disagree.
I disagree Tommaso, the science regarding global warming is quite definitive. Those interested can read this year's report "Climate Change Science" from the National Academy of Sciences.
When James Hanson first brought the Global Warming issue to the fore in the late 1980s, conservatives denied the possibility in the strongest possible terms, and (true to form) attacked Hanson. Once the evidence became undeniable that warming was occurring, conservatives changed their arguments to claim that the warming was a natural occurrence, not human induced. Now that the evidence for human induced warming is becoming incontrovertible, they fall back to cherry picking - focusing on the places where data is still being collected and ignoring the proof when it is presented.
For those who might wonder why so many believe a scientific controversy is present, when in fact none exists, I recommend Chris Mooney's article in this month's Columbia Journalism Review (http://www.cjr.org/issues/2005/5/mooney.asp). He focuses on evolution, but one can see the same forces at work with regard to the issue of human induced climate change.
For those who might find the National Academy of Sciences document (referred to above) too daunting, please see the statement from the joint academies of science (Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Russia, United Kingdom, and the US) available as a PDF at:
It is about one and one half pages long, and very clearly written.
The National Academy of Sciences' Marion Koshland Science Museum has on online exhibit called Global Warming Facts and Our Future. Its URL is:
whoa! You leave quite a paper trail there. Say, do you have a blog I should link to? It certainly looks like you have a lot to contribute.
Sorry, no blog, but I do have a web site
where I post ideas for secondary teachers looking for ideas and materials to engage their students in the learning process.
For those who might be interested in some of the things that piqued my interest in science literacy, take a look at my page posted at
One last link. For a truly accessible look at scientific information on the relationship between Global Warming and Hurricanes, see the latest Why? Files entry at
The Why? Files is a project of the University of Wisconsin. Its mission statement is located at
we need san francisco to be a lil warmer... so global warming is good. i supports it 100%
and tommasso, censoring me on a blog is a lil low bro. u cant handle what i gots to say? lolz
i guess u can join dose facist live journal mods for censoring people u dun like. hurray for free speech.
If the warming creates a sea level rise that floods SF, will you still support it? How about if it changes the climate in the midwest so that crops can no longer be grown there?
1. if da sea level rise wipes out all da liberals? yea i supports daT. lolZ smashT crushT ownT.
1. if cwops can no longer be grown in da states den daT is good for African development.... damn s0n u just been smashT again
As we've been witnessing over the past two weeks, events like these don't discriminate on the basis of political philosophy. As I recall, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama (the three states hit hardest by Katrina) were among the biggest supporters of Bush in the last two elections.
And I don't think you can count on African climate being improved by Global Climate Change. Africa may be hurt as much or more than other areas of the globe.
I'm not sure how I could have ignored this yesterday, but George Monbiot produced an absolutely first rate piece of journalistic detective work in the May 10, 2005 edition of UK's The Guardian. His article
Junk Science is an attempt to validate an assertion (published by Botanist David Bellamy in a letter to the journal NATURE) that rather than shrinking, glaciers around the world have actually be growing of late. If true, this would be a devastating attack on global warming science. Needless to say, Monbiot is unable to validate Bellamy's assertion. What he finds in his attempt to do so, clearly illustrates why it is that scientifically illiterate Americans are so confused over the state of Global Warming knowledge.
"Here, we're interested in the truth."
Yeah, Tommaso, the "truth" is always in a liberal slant, isn't it?
Intelligent,Post a Comment
Truth is not ideological, but it is subject to test - both via reason and experiment. Dogmatists ignore the testing, and they can be liberal, conservative, libertarian, or from any other philosophical camp.
I took Tommaso to mean that he is willing to test his ideas as well as those from other perspectives.
Are you willing to do the same?