Archive for September, 2005


“Breakdown in reponse” gives Bush too much credit

Wednesday, September 7th, 2005

As nearly everyone acknowledges there has been a serious “breakdown” in government response to the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina. If you are like me, you have been reading several different blogs, listening to NPR, and gleaning all you can from various other media sources. I am angry and sickened by the total disregard the administration has shown to those who have lost everything, not just materially, but many have lost their family, their community and their hope.

I should have been prepared for such inhumanity having seen this administration handiwork in Iraq, Guantanamo, and Columbia, but I wasn’t. This morning I found an Alternet piece by George Lakoff that helped me understand this pattern of contempt for those who can’t “help themselves.” Using the word “breakdown” to describe the federal response isn’t actually accurate. There was no breakdown in government response (which explains how Bush can say “Brownie is doing a fine job”). A breakdown implies that those in power expected the response to be different than it was. The reality is, that the FEMA and DHS response fits well whith the right-wing conservative philosophy of Bush and his cronies.

From George Lakoff’s “The Post-Katrina Era”:

[The right-wing conservatives] main value is Rely on individual discipline and initiative. The central principle: Government has no useful role. The only common good is the sum of individual goods. It’s the difference between We’re all in this together and You’re on your own, buddy. It’s the difference between Every citizen is entitled to protection and You’re only entitled to what you can afford. It’s the difference between connection and separation. It is this difference in moral and political philosophy that lies behind the tragedy of Katrina.

A lack of empathy and responsibility accounts for Bush’s indifference and the government’s delay in response, as well as the failure to plan for the security of the most vulnerable: the poor, the infirm, the aged, the children.

Eliminating as much as possible of the role of government accounts for the demotion of FEMA from cabinet rank, for Michael Brown’s view that FEMA was a federal entitlement program to be cut, for the budget cuts in levee repair, for placing more responsibility on state and local government than they could handle, for the failure to fully employ the military, and for the lax regulation of toxic waste dumps contributing to a “toxic stew.”

This was not just incompetence (though there was plenty of it), not just a natural disaster (though nature played its part), not just Bush (though he is accountable). This is a failure of moral and political philosophy — a deadly failure. That is the deep truth behind this human tragedy, humanly caused.

Read the rest of Lakoff’s piece, which includes his analysis of how the John Roberts nomination furthers this right-wing philosophical agenda, at Alternet.

Deflating the Elephant

Friday, September 2nd, 2005

The Lone Start Iconoclast reported this week that Italian documentary filmmaker Aldo Vidali is planning a movie based on George Lakoff and Don’t Think of an Elephant!. Besides being our first foray into serious filmmaking (albeit from the sidelines), the project will be an exciting way to raise the profile of framing before the 2006 election. In an interview with the Iconoclast, Vidali explained that he hopes to make a streaming-on-demand video to precede the film early next fall, in order to help educate people on what framing is. Vidali also talked at length about how he is making the film in Fellini-style, which will use image-rich sequences to evoke metaphors in a kind of visual version of linguistic
framing. More to come as this develops…

nature vs the man

Friday, September 2nd, 2005

With the end of summer closing in, gas and oil prices at an all-time high, and storms ravaging the country, things are looking pretty bleak for the man in the now-familiar man versus nature scenario. Fortunately, that scenario is a hoax.

Why is it that every time a natural disaster strikes, the mainstream media insists on positing it against mankind in some horrific gladiator duel? Why, in an age when science is beginning to understand a possible correlation between weather patterns and human ecological impact, do we still accept this ancient metaphor of nature as a remote and mysterious enemy force?

Watch the news today, and you’ll hear reporters assigning storm fronts absurd characteristics like wrath and fury—showing all the meteorological sophistication of an eighteenth century sailor. But this irresponsible use of a man versus nature metaphor is more than just a failure of good reporting. It also seems like a subtle way of keeping people from thinking about the possibility of human contribution to weather patterns. It seems like another way of discrediting climate change.

Ross Gelbspan hit the nail on the head on Wednesday, when he exposed Katrina’s real name: Global Warming. Not to suggest that the devestation isn’t horrible, or doesn’t deserve to be taken seriously. It is, and it does. But why does taking a problem seriously these days primarily mean assigning it status as an enemy force, and framing (yes, framing) it as a demon? If it could, the Bush administration would add Katrina to a list of rogue nations or enemy combatants, ship it off to an island to be disappeared, and call it done. God forbid we address the problem as if we were responsible participants in our own environment.


Follow us
Get every new post delivered to your inbox
Join millions of other followers
Powered By WPFruits.com