Saturday, October 15, 2005

Republicans - Stupid, Mean, or Both?

I consider myself a fairly equal opportunity ranter. While some have accused me of attacking Republicans, I think if you look back at my actual attacks, they’re pretty even. I think by name (and I didn’t go back to check), I have blamed Blanco, Landrieu, Bush, Rice, Brown, Nagin, & Hastert, which makes for a Democrat, another Democrat, a Republican, another Republican, an I-don’t-know-but-presume-Republican, a third Democrat, and an asshole that happens to be a Republican. But now, I have to attack the one party because they have gone beyond the pale.
First off, the Republican leadership in the House pushed through an energy bill which was rightly criticized as a big hand-out to big oil that stripped away environmental regulations and did nothing to lower gas prices at the pump. For me, right now, in particular terms, that means that the environmental regulations that were slowing, not stopping, not even close to stopping, but at least slowing a little bit the wholesale destruction of the wetlands -- which act as a buffer between the coast of Louisiana and New Orleans that slows down and greatly decreases a hurricane’s strength -- are gone. It was the oil companies dredging, stripping, canaling, etc. of these wetlands that made us so particularly vulnerable. There’s a reason that the levees were designed to withstand a Category 3 hurricane, and that’s because when we had the wetlands, the storms would weaken before they got to us. Tennessee doesn’t worry about Category 5 hurricanes because there’s a hell of a lot of land in between them and the coast. Land does wonders to suck the strength from a hurricane. There used to be a hell of a lot of land between New Orleans and the coast, too, but now – not so much. So the Republican leadership in their infinite wisdom kept a five-minute vote open fifty minutes until they could, I don’t know, whip and batter or whatever it is they do two Republicans into changing their votes on a bad energy bill that has guaranteed Louisiana will lose more wetlands, all while the government is supposedly preparing to send us millions, if not billions, of dollars to fix those same wetlands. So, let’s get this straight. You’re spending billions to fix the hurricane damage that was worsened by the environmental damage already there while making it easier to cause further environmental damage. Um, what? That ain’t nothing but stupid.
And it’s one thing to screw us over because you’re stupid, it’s another to screw us over because you’re mean, and that’s the only way to look at what the Republican leadership in the Senate did. Let’s see, after a disaster, the federal government loans money to the affected regions with the understanding that they will try their best to pay it back, but if they can’t, the loan will be forgiven. Always has, and moreover, always will. Well, except for this once. Just this once, the Gulf Coast MUST pay it back, no chance of forgiveness. Miami wasn’t required to do that after Hurricane Andrew, New York wasn’t required to do that after 9-11, New Hampshire isn’t going to be required to do that after those floods, just us. Landrieu was right to protest as strenuously as she did, though she could have finessed it better politically, but Vitter just proved himself a lapdog of his party by rolling over and letting his state get screwed. (Side criticism – Vitter - it’s one thing to win, and then it’s another to go on and criticize your fellow Senator after the fact. First off, it’s unhelpful, when a united front is desperately needed in an unprecedented disaster. Also, in football it’s called “taunting” and draws a flag. In elementary school, it’s called being a bad sport and gets you a time-out. So Vitter, grow up already.) And I won’t even mention the apparently non-existent (and Republican) Senators of Texas, Mississippi, and Alabama who apparently think the appropriate response to a spanking from the leadership of their party is to say, “Thank you, sir, may I have another?”
Not to mention the Senators that are saying we shouldn’t get any money because Louisiana is too corrupt to handle it. Specifically, I’m talking about Larry Craig (Idaho Republican), Tom Tancredo (Colorado Republican) and Susan Collins (Maine you-get-the-pattern), all of whom have said something along those lines. Now, I’m not going to defend corrupt Louisiana politicians, of which we’ve had more than our fair share, but I am going to point out that fears of corrupt Louisiana politicians absconding with money are just plain stupid. First off, because most of our corrupt politicians are currently in jail. Secondly, because accusing all Louisiana politicians of being corrupt is simply stereotyping, and stereotyping for any reason (racial, gender, whatever) is self-evidently ignorant. And finally, because FEMA has whole squads of auditors that track what happens to the money, except for when they’re handing out no-bid contracts to Halliburton. Oh wait, sorry, that’s corruption on the federal level by Republicans, which is clearly totally different. Speaking of corruption, let me throw out just a handful of names here that you may be familiar with – Delay, Frist, Libby, and Rove. Let’s see, besides being indicted or investigated, what else do they all have in common besides not being from Louisiana? And one last word for Craig in particular, who echoed Hastert when he said we should abandon whole sections of New Orleans. First off, who the hell does he think he is to tell us what to do? And secondly, he singled out the Lower Ninth Ward when saying it, which as you might have heard, is predominantly poor and black. Now why would he single out that neighborhood as opposed to Lakeview, which flooded just as bad but happens to be predominantly middle class and white? Not that I’m saying Larry Craig the Republican Senator from Idaho is a racist jerk, I’m just implying it.Which is all to say, the balance of the criticism has definitely shifted. Nevertheless, if at the next election you think to yourself, “You know what I want to do with my vote? I want to fuck Dale over,” then by all means, vote Republican. But you had better be prepared to defend that vote, and you better have a better reason than because boys kissing makes you feel icky.

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