About Rationally Speaking


Rationally Speaking is a blog maintained by Prof. Massimo Pigliucci, a philosopher at the City University of New York. The blog reflects the Enlightenment figure Marquis de Condorcet's idea of what a public intellectual (yes, we know, that's such a bad word) ought to be: someone who devotes himself to "the tracking down of prejudices in the hiding places where priests, the schools, the government, and all long-established institutions had gathered and protected them." You're welcome. Please notice that the contents of this blog can be reprinted under the standard Creative Commons license.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Compassionate conservatism my ass

Only fools could have believed George W. during the 2000 campaign, when he was talking of "compassionate conservatism," a textbook example of oxymoron. But people did, and he got (sort of) elected and then (sort of) re-elected.

But it has taken four days to this compassionate conservative -- who is so darn proud of his "leadership" ability -- to finally make it to the disaster area in Lousiana. What was so pressing that kept our Commander in Chief and alleged moral leader so far from the action for so long? Possibly the same kind of ineptitude in the face of disaster that produced the now famous video of him standing still in a room full of children for several minutes after he was told of the 9/11 attacks.

There has been quite a bit of talk concerning whether the disaster could have been avoided, or at least its impact greatly diminished, had the Bush administration not diverted resources (both human and financial) to the silly war in Iraq. I don't know, it's hard to tell. But what is plain for everyone to see is the sluggishness of the federal response, and the total lack of human empathy in Bush-II.

Gosh, even not exactly a champion of compassion such as Newt Gingrich has come out criticizing Bush. According to a CNN report, Newt (who may have his eyes on the run for the White House in '08), said: "I think it puts into question all of the Homeland Security and Northern Command planning for the last four years, because if we can't respond faster than this to an event we saw coming across the Gulf for days, then why do we think we're prepared to respond to a nuclear or biological attack?"

Good point. Any answer, Mr. Bush?

15 comments:

  1. Yup, kinda. The first election was clearly marred by irregularities and a highly inappropriate intervention of both the governor of Florida (GW's brother!) and the Supreme Court. Not to mention, of course, that Bush did clearly lose the popular vote.

    The second election was a bit more clear, but there were still widespread reports of irregularities, for example in Ohio, a key state won by Bush on a very slim margin. In some counties, there were more votes for GW than voters. Sounds a bit third world country, no? Just like the images coming out of Louisiana these days...

    ReplyDelete
  2. I hope jokes are allowed here.

    From an e-mail a friend sent me:

    How many members of the Bush administration does it take to change a light bulb?

    Ten.

    1. One to deny that a light bulb needs to be changed;

    2. One to attack the patriotism of anyone who says the light bulb needs to be changed;

    3. One to blame Clinton for burning out the light bulb;

    4. One to tell the nations of the world that they are either for changing the light bulb or for eternal darkness;

    5. One to give a billion dollar no-bid contract to Halliburton for the new light bulb;

    6. One to arrange a photograph of Bush, dressed as a janitor, standing on a step ladder under the banner 'Bulb Accomplished';

    7. One administration insider to resign and in detail reveal how Bush was literally 'in the dark' the whole time;

    8. One to viciously smear No. 7;

    9. One surrogate to campaign on TV and at rallies on how George Bush has had a strong light-bulb-changing policy all along;

    10. And finally, one to confuse Americans about the difference between screwing a light bulb and screwing the country.

    -A

    ReplyDelete
  3. By all means, Mr. Pigliucci, don't save all your vitriol for one person. There is in fact loads of responsibility to go around for a lot of folks.

    And even a certain % of that for non-conservatives, believe it or not. If the left really cared enough to want viable solutions and not simply point fingers, those same people would unite to accomplish life saving measures and not use this for an opportunity to attack those whose politics we disagree with.

    That's just plain, primitive opportunism, if you ask me.

    Also, where are the rest of the world's leaders, governments and their possible offers of assistance? Practically non-existent, really. Germany and a small province in Canada? We, As US citizens, on the other hand, for all the evils of capitalism, always seem to have the cash (because of that evil capitalism) to send to other countries in distress whether we agree with them diplomatically or not.

    Lastly, who on earth ever decided New Orleans should be built in that particular location in the first place? This, not unlike California, which happens to be on a very, very ominous fault. So I'm just wondering, (given that most people choose to live where they live knowing the risks) where a person can find support for the idea that residents west of the fault should begin evacuations now. ???

    cal

    ReplyDelete
  4. Cal, well, this being my blog, I can reserve my vitriol for whoever I wish, no? :-)

    Democrats can't unite to do anything at the moment. If you haven't noticed, they are the minority in both houses of Congress, and they don't control the White House.

    As for international aid, funny you mention that. After the aggressive and brash foreign policy the Bush administration has been pursuing for the last five years, you really expect there to be much interest in helping the big guy when he's in trouble?

    And please don't tell me that the US selflessly helps countries around the world. Our aid is concentrated on places we deem politically, economically or militarily strategic, and we don't care if we are helping democracies or tyrannies, as long as it is in our interest.

    ReplyDelete
  5. "this being my blog, I can reserve my vitriol for whoever I wish, no? :-)"

    Of course. But recently you mentioned this thing about rhetoric and emotion...

    >>Democrats can't unite to do anything at the moment. If you haven't noticed, they are the minority in both houses of Congress, and they don't control the White House.<<

    If the elections went one or two % points in favor of 'the left', how unified do you honestly think the Democratic Party be at this point in time? How generous, sensitive (or not) would the left be with persons who do not see eye to eye with em? People sense that sort of thing at the ballot box, whether you believe it or not. That's what happened to your few missing % points. So it's not a conspiracy really. (Er, ideas still have consequences, even in a postmodern world) The lack of unity within the dem/p is instead a telltale sign of what you and I know is a philosophy of individualism and independence. And the people that hold to it are the sole persons responsible for it.

    Now this is rather odd when one sits down and thinks about it. It's odd because the same political party, which stands by this set of ideas for the sake of moral and personal independence, is whole heartily pro-global. Apparently, no one is able see in advance that one of these ideals will eventually contradict the other?


    "As for international aid, funny you mention that. After the aggressive and brash foreign policy the Bush administration has been pursuing for the last five years, you really expect there to be much interest in helping the big guy when he's in trouble?"

    After the perpetual envy and propaganda that the rest of the euro world exchanges with each other, (not that the US can't improve in some of its dealings) probably don't expect a whole lot. (note the story about the envy of Joseph's bros in the OT) But when they refuse to help in the most desperate of circumstances, it really lays out in black and white why we don't have any overwhelming need to align with many of these countries, anyway.


    "And please don't tell me that the US selflessly helps countries around the world. Our aid is concentrated on places we deem politically, economically or militarily strategic, and we don't care if we are helping democracies or tyrannies, as long as it is in our interest."

    Interventionism only happens because at least someone actually cares about "the outcome". So when is it OKAY to help or not help -- what are the reasonable and rational guidelines for this practice? Why does it have to be from a secular, socialist pov? Notwithstanding, one might be left with the impression that you are not remarkably pleased that women now can drive and be educated in Afghanistan and Iraq.

    What's really in it for the US to see these sorts of freedoms come about? And what's in it for other countries to NOT see the freedoms evolve into lasting changes for the Arabs citizens in these countries?

    And last but most importantly, when are you going to lead the call for evacuation efforts west of the fault in CA?

    cal

    ReplyDelete
  6. Several offers of assistance came in late Friday. This one from Qatar was much more generous and sympathetic than one might have expected.

    My jumping into that particular issue was unnecessarily hasty. Terribly sorry for the misinformation. - cal

    Ch 11 Atlanta -
    “In these difficult circumstances, the people and the government of the state of Qatar would like to assure the people of the United States of its support and desire to assist the people in the affected area along the United States Gulf Coast,” said a statement from the oil-rich Persian Gulf state’s embassy.

    “Please accept our solidarity as well as our heartfelt condolences for the tragic loss of so many precious lives,” the statement said.

    ReplyDelete
  7. To further assure you I can let you know that the dutch government has offered help with providing a 'dijkinspectieteam' (a team of specialists for dam inspection) to help you out in this disaster (no joke,...it's a shame of course). And even good old Fidel has offered help.

    But really, I think it's a disgrace that political interests should matter at all when helping out in a huge disaster like this. Let's help first and argue later. I think the analogy I heard in an interview with a victim of Katrina, holds. He mentioned that the air bridge on Berlin in the late forties was arranged for in very short time when Berlin became sealed of from the rest of the world.

    Over here in Europe there's absolute bafflement over the fact that Big Brother himself, especially after 9/11, is evidently poorly organized to operate on this effectively and concisive. After this is over the waiting will be for a War on the Weather. Probably every cloud that is not benign will be shot at on first sight.

    ReplyDelete
  8. "War on the Weather." Ha. That war would have no clear ending, either.

    And I wonder what we'd invade this time? Maybe Bush would try to duplicate Caligula's feat of stealing seashells from the shore to conquer the ocean. Or we could just nuke the ocean instead. That would show all those damn hurricanes who they're dealing with!

    --Adrienne

    ReplyDelete
  9. Oh yeah, cal, even the much hated Hugo Chavez offered to donate oil to us.

    Personally, I'd vote for sending him Pat Robertson's head stuffed and mounted on a wall plaque as a thank-you present.

    --Adrienne

    ReplyDelete
  10. Hugo Chavez doesn't love us, A.

    Cuba and Venezuela have a pretty tight relationship. And given my brother-in-law's experience growing up there, I'd have a hard time imagining how that could be a good thing.

    And Mr. Robertson said things he should not have, but let's lighten up a bit, okay? I think he's over seventy.

    cal

    ReplyDelete
  11. Show me where I said, Mr. Chavez "loved" us, Cal. Maybe he merely feels pity for the poor US people who got screwed over by their government's lack of poor planning.

    And you know what? Not many people outside of this country love the US right now. And I can't say I blame them.

    I'm not one of those progressives who thinks the US is the most evil country on earth. Matter of fact, I don't have much patience for those types. Heck, there's a reason just about everybody and his brother is still trying to get *into* this country, legally or otherwise.

    But there are many reasons why other countries are pissed off at the US, and some of them are very valid complaints.

    As for Pat Robertson, why should I lighten up? Just because he's old doesn't mean he gets a pass on whatever he says. The man called for assassinating a foreign president, fer chrissakes. Robertson is, and always has been, an embarrassment to this country.

    --A

    ReplyDelete
  12. Cal, surely you know that Pat Roberston has been spewing that sort of inhane stuff ever since he got a public pulpit to do it from. Age has nothing to do with it.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Sorry if the news did not come out properly to me, but one thing I found absolutely incomprehensible was to read in an excerpt from the Financial Times that the official response to people leaving the Astrodome and other sites by foot and walking over the main bridge on the Mississipi was to shoot to the air so that they turned around and returned to New Orleans...
    And I personally disagree with the popular view that Mr Bush was insensitive for his lack of response on the Katrina situation. I'm sure he spent the best part of the last days mourning the loss of those petrol platforms in the Mexican Gulf...

    ReplyDelete
  14. Yeah, Cuba offered 1,100 doctors and 26 tons of medicine, and Venezuela offered gas to the affected states. Considering human nature and all that, it was probably just for the fun of treating the US as a 3rd world country. Which, as Massimo said, is pretty much what it looked like these days - not just the images, but the planning, organization, etc. before and after the catastrophe. Believe me, I come from a 3rd world country myself...

    Oh, and the US officially asked for EU, NATO, etc. help the other day.

    J

    ReplyDelete

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.