Friday, September 09, 2005

The Party of Evil or the Party of Stupidity: Some Choice

As all my nearest and dearest and most of my cronies know, I usually spend two weeks every summer at the Summer School for Liturgical Music in upstate NY -- two weeks of hobnobbing with other folks who love to sing and love Orthodoxy, it doesn't get any better than that. A couple of summers ago, I was chatting with one of the professors about politics, and he opined that one's only real choices were the "Party of Evil" or the "Party of Stupidity."

Now, since this person is from Boston, I was pretty sure which political party he considered "evil" (Boston being one of the most solidly Democratic cities in the nation), but I was curious to find out why he thought the Democrats were stupid. So I asked, "Which is the Party of Evil?" He looked at me as if to say, "You're kidding, right?" and answered, "The Democrats, of course." And while I was still picking my jaw up from the floor, he added, "What's more evil than killing your own children?"

Good point.

I raise it because, reading other people's blogs, I am struck with the venom directed at the Bushes. Regardless of one's opinion as to how this latest fiasco was mismanaged (and having seen FEMA in action on many other occasions, I'm not convinced this was any different or worse), there's such a personal quality to people's vituperation. Really, it's been that way ever since the election of 2000, when people were convinced Bush "stole" the White House. (Yes, Gore won the popular vote, but not the electoral vote. That has happened before, most recently in 1960, when the other Most Hated Republican -- Richard Nixon -- refused to request a recount.)

So I got to thinking. And it seems to me that for the absolute foulness of public discourse to cease, the only solution is for the nation to keep electing Democrats, since at least Republicans are funny when taking potshots at the opposition.

In that case, which is worse? To live with four years of Republican mismanagement, a lot of malcontents spewing venom and hatred at everything that the President undertakes, and rousing the rabble until we become a camp of armed militia on either side of the political spectrum? Or to live with the Party of Evil in power, supporting the demolition of the family and the wholesale murder of the unborn and definitions of marriage that are most charitably described as "creative," selling the country down the road of perdition until a takeover by Anti-Christ is inevitable -- but the rabble are Fat, Dumb and Happy, and intelligent discourse becomes not even a memory?

I don't know. Well, I do know -- for myself. I will continue to vote according to my conscience, and also according to the way I have voted most of my life: deciding early on which candidate I'm against, and not looking too closely at what's left. Unfortunately, I think that's how most people vote nowadays.

Oh, and I'll spend Election Days as I spent this past Election Day, singing alternately, "Save, O Lord, Thy people," and "To thee, the Champion Leader." That way, whichever wins, I'll know it was the will of God, and I'll be content.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Out of the Closet

No, not that closet. I've just decided I'm tired of closing myself up so I don't tick people off.

This is from a local news service:

Note: In a distributed breaking news alert, we cited an Associated Press report that said engineers working for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers were shot by New Orleans police officers. The Associated Press later retracted that report, saying the engineers came under fire and that the police shot the gunmen.

I have said it a couple of times, and I will say it again: What's up with that? You complain about nobody coming to help you, and when they show up to help, you shoot at them? Gimme a break.

Uncovering people who died hiding in houses or who got caught in floods is going to be "as ugly a scene as you can imagine," said Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff.

Wait a minute. There was a mandatory evacuation order put into effect on Sunday. What part of "mandatory" did people not understand? Yeah, yeah, I've heard about the Poor Unfortunates Who Didn't Have Transportation. Nobody talks about the fact that buses were sent for these folks, who turned down the offer of help.

Despite complaints about the government's sluggish response to death and misery in the Gulf Coast region, Chertoff said it's too soon to start blaming people for perceived mistakes in how hurricane relief has been handled.... On Monday, the president will visit the region for a second time. His administration has been taking considerable heat for what's seen as a sluggish response to the disaster.

This is the one that really gets me, the notion that somehow, this is all Bush's fault. As if he were personally responsible for the hurricane. As if it were his personal responsibility to see to it that the city had a workable evacuation plan in place before this thing hit. Excuse me, isn't that the Mayor's job?! So is it Bush's fault that the people of New Orleans elected an incompetent boob who can't lead his way out of a paper bag?! Did Rudy Giulani blame the government for 9/11? (And incidentally, he could have, with considerable justification, since the Clinton Administration had spent 8 years sitting on its backside while Osama pulled his machinery together.)

The stress and strain from Hurricane Katrina aren't just taking an emotional toll on civilians. Police are also feeling the effects. The deputy police chief in New Orleans said two of his officers have committed suicide....published reports indicate as many as 200 officers have failed to report for duty, including some resignations. Riley said some officers may be missing work because they've been trapped at home and been unable to reach their command centers.

But nobody's helping, oh, no. When two cops commit suicide in the space of a week, does it occur to anyone that maybe the city is asking more of its police force than any human being should be required to give? No, heck, that's what we pay them for! Hint: There isn't enough money in the world to pay cops for their regular job, let alone this kind of crisis.

Then there's this:

Nearly a week after the hurricane blasted its coastal region, Mississippi continues to suffer, often in silence. It felt the full force of the storm but the destruction and misery in Mississippi have been overshadowed by media coverage of the catastrophic aftermath in New Orleans, said University of Virginia political scientist Larry Sabato.

A classic case, I guess, of the squeaky wheel (New Orleans) getting the most grease. If I can find a site that's collecting money for the victims of Mississippi, that's where I'll donate. I'm not going to help the Mayor of New Orleans get away with pinning his incompetence on somebody else.

There are a few slivers of light in the storm-ravaged region.

A $62 million National Emergency Grant was announced Saturday by Labor Secretary Elaine Chao, to fund about 10,000 temporary jobs for Hurricane Katrina clean-up and recovery in Louisiana.

Chao said the temporary jobs will mean paychecks for thousands of dislocated workers and will help to clean up, rebuild and repair their communities. Federal officials said all 64 Louisiana parishes will take part in providing work sites for displaced individuals until evacuation orders are lifted.

We were just talking about this last night. This is what needs to take place, people working on their own communities to get them back up and running. Why are people in the rest of the country being asked to house and feed refugees, when they should be housed and fed near the site of their own homes, so they can roll up their sleeves and get to work on the reconstruction?

Then there's this:

Help comes from unusual places in times of tragedy.

Afghanistan, with a government propped up by other countries, is pledging $100 dollars for U.S. victims of Hurricane Katrina. The U.S. Embassy in Kabul said the pledge came in a letter from Afghan President Hamid Karzai. Afghanistan relies heavily on financial aid from the U.S., and Ambassador Ronald Neumann said Afghanistan's compassion and generosity bears testimony to the strength of the ties between the two countries.

The European Union and NATO said the U.S. asked for emergency assistance. Both said they're ready to help.

More than 60 countries have pledged assistance of some sort for the recovery effort. Among them:

A half-billion dollars is coming from Kuwait, the country a U.S.-led coalition liberated from Iraqi occupation in 1991. Another $100 million is coming from Qatar.
The 22-member Arab League is calling on Arab nations to provide hurricane relief.
Austria, Belgium, Britain, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Luxembourg, Finland, Italy, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, Spain and The Netherlands have pledged assistance.

China has offered $5 million and pledged logistical and other assistance. South Korea is sending $30 million. North Korea, which views the U.S. as its main enemy, has sent a message of sympathy through the Red Cross.

Not mentioned, sadly, is the fact that Russia was the first to offer aid. But what gets me is Afghanistan. Did somebody say our presence there was a waste??