labour day

With my kitchen in working order, I'm poking my head out of The Tunnel Of Moving and sniffing out The World Beyond My Life. We have a big week ahead of us, so who knows, I might quickly duck back in the hole.

So I don't lose touch with two of my favorite New Yorkers, I'm bringing you the only reasons to ever read the New York Times.

Paul Krugman reminds us that the US federal government's catastrophic failure regarding Katrina was not just stupidity. It was a product of philosophy, the end result of a series of choices.
Each day since Katrina brings more evidence of the lethal ineptitude of federal officials. I'm not letting state and local officials off the hook, but federal officials had access to resources that could have made all the difference, but were never mobilized.

Here's one of many examples: The Chicago Tribune reports that the U.S.S. Bataan, equipped with six operating rooms, hundreds of hospital beds and the ability to produce 100,000 gallons of fresh water a day, has been sitting off the Gulf Coast since last Monday - without patients.

. . .

But the federal government's lethal ineptitude wasn't just a consequence of Mr. Bush's personal inadequacy; it was a consequence of ideological hostility to the very idea of using government to serve the public good. For 25 years the right has been denigrating the public sector, telling us that government is always the problem, not the solution. Why should we be surprised that when we needed a government solution, it wasn't forthcoming?

Does anyone remember the fight over federalizing airport security? Even after 9/11, the administration and conservative members of Congress tried to keep airport security in the hands of private companies. They were more worried about adding federal employees than about closing a deadly hole in national security.

Of course, the attempt to keep airport security private wasn't just about philosophy; it was also an attempt to protect private interests. But that's not really a contradiction. Ideological cynicism about government easily morphs into a readiness to treat government spending as a way to reward your friends. After all, if you don't believe government can do any good, why not?
And in case you need more evidence, Bob Herbert details what a dolt Moron is.
Mr. Bush flew south on Friday and proved (as if more proof were needed) that he didn't get it. Instead of urgently focusing on the people who were stranded, hungry, sick and dying, he engaged in small talk, reminiscing at one point about the days when he used to party in New Orleans, and mentioning that Trent Lott had lost one of his houses but that it would be replaced with "a fantastic house - and I'm looking forward to sitting on the porch."

Mr. Bush's performance last week will rank as one of the worst ever by a president during a dire national emergency. What we witnessed, as clearly as the overwhelming agony of the city of New Orleans, was the dangerous incompetence and the staggering indifference to human suffering of the president and his administration.

And it is this incompetence and indifference to suffering (yes, the carnage continues to mount in Iraq) that makes it so hard to be optimistic about the prospects for the United States over the next few years. At a time when effective, innovative leadership is desperately needed to cope with matters of war and peace, terrorism and domestic security, the economic imperatives of globalization and the rising competition for oil, the United States is being led by a man who seems oblivious to the reality of his awesome responsibilities.
Krugman column here, Herbert column here.

The media critic Todd Gitlin wrote about reaction to Bush's failure in yesterday's Guardian.
Bush at bay

From Baghdad to Biloxi, the President has never been so assailed by such vitriolic criticism

Apres le deluge, quoi? The gales that blew across the Gulf of Mexico last week also engulfed President George W Bush as he strained to cope with catastrophe - the hurricane and subsequent inundation and social breakdown that vast numbers of Americans understood as not only natural but political.

August was already Bush's cruelest month. This President eagerly seizes his annual chance to evacuate the discomfiting city of Washington for the west Texas ranch where, his spokesman recently admitted, he grazes 'four or five cattle'. But exigencies have a way of streaming into the bubble.

On 6 August 2001, the CIA told Bush: 'Bin Laden Determined to Strike in US.' On 6 August 2005, Cindy Sheehan, the mother of a Californian soldier killed in Iraq, camped out near his west Texas ranch demanding to meet him to ask why her son had died. Sheehan filled the news vacuum and became, for a while, Everywoman, while Bush was caught off-balance, especially as constitutional talks in Iraq proved unimpressive. The President sounded hapless when he answered a reporter's question as to why he could find time for his bicycle but not Sheehan.
This is a long piece, but well worth your time, as Gitlin pulls together the whole rotten picture.

* * * *

Today I'm putting my office in order, and I don't want to leave the house except for lakeside dog-walks and afternoon tea in the backyard. (Boy do I love the sound of that.)

In our NYC apartment, Allan set up shop in the dining room - laptop and piles of paper only - and the second bedroom we used as my office doubled as a storage room. Now, with more storage space, Allan's office will be in the basement, and my office will be mine, all mine [insert maniacal cackling laughter here].

Last night we worked on the kitchen, hanging up all the organizer doo-dads I bought yesterday, and putting together some great hanging-basket shelving from Ikea. I have to return a bunch of crap to Home Outfitters, because it was, well, crap. But things are beginning to take shape. Boxes are being emptied, and shelves are filling up with baskets and organizer thingys, which means it's beginning to look like My Home. A few of you reading this know I am an organization freak. Hand me a bunch of plastic baskets and I'm in my glory.


Anonymous said...

"I have to return a bunch of crap to Home Outfitters, because it was, well, crap."

My wife always goes to "Homesense" she hates Home Outfitters. As a matter of fact I've heard her say "crap" when describing something she bought there.

Notice I said "my wife". I think I'm allergic to those kind of stores


laura k said...

Clearly a smart woman, Mrs ALPF. Homesense was right next door to Home Outfitters, and now I've learned which door to choose.

mkk said...


I realized when reading this post that I may have neglected to thank you. It was you who encouraged me to start reading the OpEd page and such brilliant writers as Paul Krugman, Thomas Friedman, and Bob Herbert. In the past, I had mostly confined my NY Times reading to the news, parts of the Magazine, and Sunday Styles. I feel vastly better informed now and am continually inspired by the high quality of the writing. Thank you!

laura k said...

You're welcome. :)

I'm glad to turn you to Krugman (my hero!) and Bob Herbert. Frank Rich and occasionally Maureen Dowd make the grade, too.

My favorite source for opinion pieces is Common Dreams - one stop shopping for columns and Op-Eds from a progressive point of view. There will be some not-well-written pieces, but it's always worth skimming the daily offerings to see what's there.

mkk said...

I have just made Common Dreams a favorite place. I seem to remember that you, Laura, published a great piece there some time ago! Keeping up with all these important news and views can be very time-consuming, but I am getting quite hooked. Thanks for this new info, too!

laura k said...

Two pieces, actually. :) Both linked on the right - one on not standing for the singing of God Bless America at Yankee Stadium, one about reproductive rights (and lack thereof) for American women.

It's definitely addictive, but it's well worth your time, I think. You can never be too informed.

Crabbi said...

Truthout and Buzzflash are good, too :)

laura k said...

Truthout and Buzzflash are good, too :)

They are both excellent. Essential. I didn't want to overload Mkk. But it's probably too late for that, anyway.

Kyle_From_Ottawa said...

For 25 years the right has been denigrating the public sector, telling us that government is always the problem, not the solution. Why should we be surprised that when we needed a government solution, it wasn't forthcoming?

And yet, the Bush government was preventing private sector help as well. Wal-Mart tried to deliver three truckloads of water to New Orleans, but the trucks were turned back by FEEMA, which said it didn't need them.