Evolution Media #2: Katrina and Current TV

Here’s the new episode of Evolution Media, my bi-weekly audio rant. The subject this time is how the media showed its best side when covering Hurricane Katrina, as well as the promised review of Al Gore’s Current TV network and its approach to citizen journalism.

As usual, you have three ways to listen (there still seems to be no way to offer a choice of formats through RSS, other than having multiple feeds—which is virtually impossible to manage in Movable Type).

Audible Format 3, the voice-optimized file is smallest (5.2 MB)

Audible Format 4, MP3-quality, far smaller than MP3 (10.3 MB)—Your best choice, IMO

MP3 (51.4 MB)

For those of you who want to read along—I rewrite in my head constantly while reading so there is no faithful transcript—you can continue reading this posting to see the text I worked from….

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Continue reading “Evolution Media #2: Katrina and Current TV”

Relief doesn’t mean a competitive wage….

According to the Proclamation by the President: To Suspend Subchapter IV of Chapter 31 of Title 40, United States Code, Within a Limited Geographic Area in Response to the National Emergency Caused by Hurricane Katrina:

(b) The wage rates imposed by section 3142 of title 40, United States Code, increase the cost to the Federal Government of providing Federal assistance to these areas.

So, Mr, Bush suspends those rules in an executive order. After relaxing pollution standards and resisting any price caps on gasoline, the President shows again that it’s the little people who have to bear the burden of a disaster, not Bush’s friends in industry. Workers in the hurricane region will be paid less than the prevailing wage to keep Federal costs low. Now, these are the same people who most need the work and to have an opportunity to rebuild their lives. Yet, again, it is the least powerful in America who are asked to carry the greatest burden.

Oh, but the poor do get a National Day of Prayer. Maybe things will go better for them in the next life, eh, Mr. President?

Fortunately, though, Mr. Bush is still on his toes in the War on Terror. He extended the “national emergency” for another year. Do you feel safer, yet? No, just poorer?

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Pfizer does right by Katrina survivors

Britt says:

I got an email from my friend Huw Gilbert, of the Communications Department at Pfizer. He needs our help in getting the word out on a very

generous, very temporary offer by Pfizer, the world’s largest Pharmaceutical company: Free prescriptions for everyone directly affected by Katrina.

Pfizer’s generous offer expires 9/16. Spread the word!

Pfizerfolk—Way to go. I support companies that help people in need.

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Obsessed with Iraq, Bush demonstrates classic imperial overextension

The FInancial Times weighs in on the issue of American focus….

Samuel Huntington has called it the Lippmann Gap, echoing the American journalist Walter Lippmann in 1943: “Foreign policy consists in bringing into balance, with a comfortable surplus of power in reserve, the nation’s commitments and the nation’s power.” The historian Paul Kennedy has another name for it: “Imperial overextension”. Whatever you call this dangerous disease, the symptoms are clear in the US.

In early 2001, shortly after President George W.?Bush was inaugurated and before 9/11, the Federal Emergency Management Agency warned of the three most devastating disasters that could strike the US: a terrorist attack on New York City, a hurricane flooding New Orleans and a San Francisco earthquake. The Bush administration was focused on its priority: Iraq.

The issue is not who is to blame, but a.) what is the country paying attention to, b.) to whose interests it caters, and c.) the consequences for foreign and domestic policy of the decisions made based on the priorities described by A and B.

Bush’s policy will be our undoing

As I’ve been saying for the past week….

Falluja Floods the Superdome – New York Times:

Now, thanks to Mr. Bush’s variously incompetent, diffident and hubristic mismanagement of the attack by Katrina, he has sent the entire world a simple and unambiguous message: whatever the explanation, the United States is unable to fight its current war and protect homeland security at the same time.

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Norquist laments threat to tax cuts….

Had he only one-thousandth the concern for the people of New Orleans that he does for tax cuts for the wealthy, neocon guru Grover Norquist would not be bound for the deepest circle of Hell. Satan’s going to need to invent a new torture for this memo alone (Pointed to by Daily Kos.):

The 2003 tax cut is instructive to the recent tragic events. Opponents of permanent repeal of the Death

Tax are attempting to exploit this tragedy to put off a vote. Proof that they are exploiting this tragedy

is that they were never for repeal of the Death Tax in the first place. They were against this proposal

six years ago, five years ago, four years ago, three years ago, two years ago, and two weeks ago.

By stalling the vote they believe that the issue will not fit in the calendar on a later date. The 2003 tax

cut lifted economic growth far beyond what most people expected. We know repeal of the Death Tax

will also have a similar effect. And higher levels of economic growth is exactly what the residents of

the Gulf Region need at this time to start the rebuilding process for their neighborhoods and more

importantly for their lives.

So, based on the stellar record of investment by the rich, who have already received trillions in tax breaks during the Bush II years without returning trillions in new economic value, we’re supposed to believe that the repeal of the inheritance tax is the key to recovery from Hurricane Katrina?

Repealing the so-called “death tax” benefits approximately 18,000 families annually (out of approximately 100 million). It does not help “farm families;” according to a study by the Tax Policy Center only 440 families who paid a tax on estates of more than $1.5 had farm assets that accounted for more than half the value of the estate. Only 7,090 families in that study had any farm or small business income, the rest were simply passing unalloyed wealth along.

Assuming even distribution of the beneficiaries of Norquist’s policy, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana may have 320 farm and small business-owning families that would benefit directly from the repeal of the estate tax in the next year—compared to the hundreds of thousands of families who suffered catastrophic losses that would benefit from spending some of the money collected from this trivial tax burden on the very rich on direct recovery aide.

Remember, a tax on inherited wealth was considered an indispensable mechanism for preventing the establishment of an aristocracy by the Founders. So, let’s get some strict constructionism in place in response to Norquist: Tell him to take his revisionist inhumane policy and shove it; it’s time to invest in people, not promises that the rich will let some wealth trickle down.

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Reality sets in: This President is irresponsibly indifferent to the people

Paul Krugman—A Can’t-Do Government – New York Times:

Maybe administration officials believed that the local National Guard could keep order and deliver relief. But many members of the National Guard and much of its equipment – including high-water vehicles – are in Iraq. “The National Guard needs that equipment back home to support the homeland security mission,” a Louisiana Guard officer told reporters several weeks ago.

As I said the other day, the death in New Orleans is the result of indifference to the general needs of the people of the United States in favor of a war that is essential only to the political program of the president. The President said today that he completely disagreed that Iraq had soaked up resources that could have been used to evacuate people before Katrina—he said there are ample resources for both the war and domestic crises, which was flatly untrue in the face of the facts. Another Times editorial stands with with the argument I made Sunday night:

One lasting lesson that has to be drawn from the Gulf Coast’s misery is that from now on, the National Guard must be treated as America’s most essential homeland security force, not as some kind of military piggy bank for the Pentagon to raid for long-term overseas missions. America clearly needs a larger active-duty Army. It just as clearly needs a homeland-based National Guard that’s fully prepared and ready for any domestic emergency.

The President says he will “delegate to the best experts” in rebuilding New Orleans, but at the same time his FEMA director blames the poor in New Orleans who wanted to but could not evacuate from a city where a fifth of the population is too poor to own a car. Mr. Bush’s team treats the poor like a burden they’d be better off without.

I watch this man laugh and chuckle with reporters about how people don’t understand the need for patience and it makes me sick. He should be impeached for incompetence and ignorance and indifference.

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After Katrina, look to “after oil”

WSJ.com – The Katrina Crisis: Noted oil analyst Daniel Yergin writes….

Man’s technical ingenuity has collided with nature’s rage in the Gulf of Mexico, and the outcome has been an integrated energy disaster. The full scope will not be understood until the waters recede, the damage to platforms and refineries is assessed, and the extent of damage to underwater pipelines from undersea mudslides is determined. Yet what has happened is on a scale not seen before, and the impact of the price spikes and dislocations will roll across the entire economy. Even as we confront the human tragedy, the consequences will also force us to think more expansively about energy security, and to focus harder on a matter which other events have already emphasized: The need for new infrastructure and investment in our energy sector.

After Katrina, which is just a sample of the impact of oil shortages on the U.S. economy, we need to invest in alternative sources of energy and simply and frankly admit the dangerous reliance on oil that the Bush Administration has only reinforced because of its deep ties to that industry.

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Appalling….

The collapse of emergency services and the complete bungling by Federal authorities who, nevertheless, say everything’s fine and “help is on the way” in the wake of Hurricane Katrina is appalling.

That FEMA yesterday claimed to have enough funding to respond and today is almost out of money is appalling, when this country has been on a war footing prepared for devastating domestic attacks since 2001, is appalling. That Homeland Security is virtually ineffective three days after the hurricane is stark evidence of the poorly conceived policies of the Bush Administration.

That the President’s first reaction was to relax pollution control laws, when he failed to get the National Guard in place to remove tens of thousands of poor from New Orleans, a city below sea level, before the hurricane hit, is appalling. He always thinks first of his friends in business.

His talk today, with President Clinton and his father beside him, in which he said the Federal government would do its part, but that the private sector had to do its part, as well, leaves the sacrifices to be made a voluntary effort for the private sector—what Mr. Bush fails to see is that the Federal government is the lever that society can use to act together.

We’re witnessing a historic failure of leadership, as profound or more so than any other in U.S. history, because the cares and prosperity of average Americans have been given a lower priority than that of business and the wealthy. Mr. Bush chatters about “the good people” who “have to understand” while those good people are dying and more will die because the long-term priorities established by and hubris of, this Administration. It is appalling.

Donate to the Red Cross.

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