George Lakoff on Katrina – Failure of Moral Values

In a nice follow up to my earlier There’s No Helping the NeoCons post, George Lakoff comments that Katrina was not only a natural disaster and federal failure, it was a complete failure of the Republican moral and political philosophy.

(emphasis is Lakoff’s)

“The [right-wing conservatives] 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.”

Federal Ineffectualness Self-Fulfilling Prophecy?

If you’re trying to show the value of and need for a small government, what better way to do it than bog it down in red tape, heel-dragging, target-less finger-pointing, and ignoring the pre-existing plans.

By cutting funding, acting slowly, and otherwise sabotaging success – whether in the public education system or the New Orleans recovery – the belief that “big” government “doesn’t work” is proved.

Unfortunately, the reason we have a federal government is to handle situations larger than any single state and important to all states; highways, commerce, disaster response, citizen education, and a handful more.

Best we can hope for is that dead at the bottom of Lake George is the conniving, budget-cutting, nihilism that caused it.

There’s No Helping the NeoCons

A while back, I read George Lakoff’s Don’t Think of an Elephant. It was extremely helpful in understanding how progressives and neo-conservatives frame issues differently and their underlying values.

From it, I learned NeoCons see asking for help a sign of weakness. That all assistance is charity and charity should be abolished. That if you’re asking for help, then damn it, you just aren’t working hard enough.

Why has it taken so long for the administration to respond? Because deep down, they don’t feel they should.

“George Bush Doesn’t Care About Black People”

Anyone else catch this on NBC’s Concert for Hurricane Relief?

The man that said it was on camera with Michael Myers. I didn’t recognize him. Did you?

According to PBCLiberal, it was non-NBC talking head Kayne West

Video can be found at Zebrality

Looks like I heard something different, the quote being reported is:

“George Bush doesn’t care about black people,” West said. “They’re saying black families are looting and white families are just looking for food…they’re giving the (Army) permission to shoot us.”

It’s great that NBC’s lawyer needed to state the obvious;

“….his opinions in no way represent the views of the networks. “

Like PBCLiberal stated, if West’s opinions did or the lawyers didn’t have to state the obvious, the network might actually have a fighting chance against cable, Fox, netflix, and your nephew’s video blog.

West’s comments definitely didn’t “ruin” the show, his authentic, unscripted comments they made it worth talking about. This post and all the others linked to in wouldn’t exist otherwise. Nor would I have known who Kayne West is or how he really feels about how the Katrina is being handled. Kudos for West for sticking his neck out. Shame on NBC for not understanding that unscripted is far more valuable and interesting than poorly written cue cards.

But if NBC doesn’t want viewers talking about them, I’m happy to not tune into them.

iFilm has the video also. I’ve corrected the title of this post to accurately reflect West’s comment. Though I’m starting to question the decision of changing this post’s title. Seems Liz Vang and He’ll Quit the Game” also heard “hates”.

Hmmm. Interesting.

First Crack 56. Bill Lofy on Paul Wellstone and Politics

Bill Lofy, Wellstone Action‘s Communications Director, and I talked about his two new books; Paul Wellstone – A Passion for Politics and Politics the Wellstone Way just as they hit the shelves.

Be sure to catch Bill on his national tour promoting his Wellstone biography.

If Camp Wellstone comes to your neighborhood, I highly recommend it- no matter your political affiliation.

Listen to Bill Lofy on Paul Wellstone and Politics [20 min]

CPB – Subsidizing American Culture or Unnecessary Intermediary

Should the CPB continue to receive tax payer dollars?

On one hand, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting funds some of the most well known American culture icons – Sesame Street, Clifford the Big Red Dog, Nightline, among them. Programs and lessons that shaped my childhood and the childhoods of everyone I know.

On the other hand, the CPB is structured in such a way that the reigning administration pulls the purse strings. As Mike O’Connor has stated repeatedly, “he who pays the piper calls the tune.”

This begs the question on the definition of “public”. Are we talking “publicly funded” or “created by the public”?. Tax dollars are public monies funding all sorts of services only a subset of us (the public) agrees with at any given time; highways, Medicare, Iraq War, education, parks, space travel. Seems to me, financing extremely large projects that none of us can accomplish individually is what governments and taxes are for. Whether we as individual investors fully appreciate them or not. Does the CPB’s mission fall into the ‘bigger than all of us’ category?

The fact you’re reading this weblog means CPB’s current model is expiring. As Jeff Jarvis states, It’s time to..

“Reexamine the mission of public broadcasting in an era when the public can broadcast.”

The no-barrier-to-entry of weblogs, podcasts, and videoblogs has caused an explosion in self-publishing. All produced independent of CPB funding. From this public is “created by the public” angle KYOU – a Clear Channel AM station – may actually be more public than NPR.

If I’m reading CPB’s site accurately, a full 26% of their funding comes from memberships. Less than 15% of their funding is from Congress – about $370 million dollars. If as Evol mentions, $370 million breaks down to $1.25 per year per American, then we need to find a way for each American to easily – and independently – invest $12.50 to continue supporting public broadcasting. Making it easier for citizens to become customers as Doc Searls states. Ideally on a per-production basis rather than at the network level. This will transform the “money sucks but we need to pay the electric bill” fund drives to an actual marketplace where Americans have direct control over what’s called “public broadcasting.”

With this, I challenge PBS to change the “take action now” link at from “call your congressman” to “give us $12.50”. Same challenge for NPR. Hell, I’ll happily flag my $12.50 for experimental and new programs.

Otherwise next year, it’ll be deja vu all over again.

Historical Political Drama Double Feature

Last night, Jen and I watched All the President’s Men, off the Netflix. It’s the screen adaptation of the Watergate investigation starring Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman as Woodward & Bernstein, or “Woodstein”.

Considering the whole thing went down months before I was born, my understanding of Watergate is ethereal at best. The movie is more than a retelling of one of America’s low points, it helped form the basic language of our cloak-and-dagger stereotypes; the smoking informant that will only meet the dark of night, hints just falling into your lap, and a nondescript enemy foiling you at every step. Or maybe that’s just Washington politics.

The dynamic between Hoffman and Redford was remarkable, the Washington Post’s office furniture stylish, and the intrigue kept me on the couch and away from the laptop for more than 2 hours.

As Redford was searching through a stack of big, heavy telephone books, I couldn’t help but wonder how different this same investigation would be today. With Google, weblogs, and 24 hour news, would it be easier or more difficult to uncover the conspiracy?

I vote for the same.

On the subject of enlightening historical political dramas, The Fog of War – Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara. McNamara was Kennedy & Johnson’s Secretary of Defense, putting the subject of this movie just a few years ahead of All the President’s Men.

This movie gave Errol Morris an Oscar for best documentary and he deserves it. Walking into it, Jen and I had no idea who McNamara was – just that Morris is a brilliant documentary filmmaker.

By the end, I was stunned. Stunned at how little I knew about; the Cuban Missle Crisis, the Vietnam War, and how the Cold War wasn’t so much.