12 September, 2008

Happy Hour Discurso

Today's opining on the public discourse.

To any readers here from the Gulf Coast: get the fuck out of Dodge and stay safe, K? This one looks horrific:

Meteorologists, hard-bitten science bloggers, and sober-minded weather watchers are using some unusual vocabulary to talk about Hurricane Ike. For instance, here's Dr. Jeff Masters, cofounder of Weather Underground (who used to fly with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters), with some bolding added for emphasis:

Hurricane Ike is closing in on Texas, and stands poised to become one of the most damaging hurricanes of all time. Despite Ike's rated Category 2 strength, the hurricane is much larger and more powerful than Category 5 Katrina or Category 5 Rita. The storm surge from Ike could rival Katrina's, inundating a 200-mile stretch of coast from Galveston to Cameron, Louisiana with waters over 15 feet high. This massive storm surge is due to the exceptional size of Ike. According to the latest wind field estimate (Figure 1), the diameter of Ike's tropical storm and hurricane force winds are 550 and 240 miles, respectively. For comparison, Katrina numbers at landfall were 440 and 210 miles, respectively. As I discussed in yesterday's blog entry, a good measure of the storm surge potential is Integrated Kinetic Energy (IKE). Ike continues to grow larger and has intensified slightly since yesterday, and the hurricane's Integrated Kinetic Energy has increased from 134 to 149 Terajoules. This is 30% higher than Katrina's total energy at landfall. All this extra energy has gone into piling up a vast storm surge that will probably be higher than anything in recorded history along the Texas coast.

Storm surge heights of 20-25 feet are possible from Galveston northwards to the Louisiana border. . .


Earlier this morning, Eric Berger (author of the Houston Chronicle's "SciGuy" blog) tried to explain what to expect for folks living in different parts of the area. Most chilling was this:

If you live east of San Luis Pass and less than 20 feet above sea level, God help you at this point if you have not evacuated.

There's a lot more in that article about the fact that many seawalls are only 14 or 15 feet high - far less than what would be needed to protect the cities.

And don't rely on the authorities to help you - there's already breathtaking signs of utter cluelessness:

Same thing happened in Katrina, as I recall. The stupidity and callousness is astonishing.

Galveston Island residents were told to flee Hurricane Ike or face "certain death," but the Sheriff has inexplicably decided not to evacuate 1,000 prisoners from the county jail as the first flooding has already begun in the city.

It's bad enough to risk the inmates' lives, but downright bizarre to me that the Sheriff is willing to risk his deputies. The National Hurricane Center has predicted waves that will top Galveston's seawall potentially by several meters, which would easily flood the town.

The sheriff's excuse? Positively Bushian in its inanity: "'We did this during (Hurricane) Rita (in 2005) and no one knew until it was absolutely done,' said a Sheriff's spokesman."

Look, you stupid fuckwit: getting lucky once doesn't make you fucking bulletproof. I just hope that 1000+ people don't die from your delusions.

Today is a day of ridiculous rationalizations. Here's McCain on why his campaign has resorted to sleaze, sewage, and endless lies:

As part of last night's forum on national service, John McCain was asked about the tone and direction of the presidential campaign. His response was arguably the most fascinating moment of the evening.

Questioned about the tone of the campaign, Sen. McCain insisted he was running an issues-based campaign and put the blame on his opponent for refusing to join him in town hall meetings.

"First of all this is a tough business," the Arizona senator said. "Second of all, I think the tone of this whole campaign would've been very different if Sen. Obama had accepted my request for us to appear at town hall meetings all over America."


There's a word to describe this argument, but it's probably not appropriate for a family website.

No, indeed, Steve. So let me say it for you: Bullshit.

Utter. Fucking. Bullshit.

It's the "devil made me do it" defense. It's the "he hit me first!" excuse. It's the "he didn't love me enough" weasel. Small children are expected to come up with bullshit excuses like this. Ancient old men who have been in office since 1982 know better.

But not McCain.

Up next: Sarah Palin's first interview with Charlie Gibson didn't go at all well, but it's not her fault - it's Charlie's:

Over at The Corner, though, Lisa Schiffren thinks the problem isn't Palin, it's Gibson having the gall to ask substantive questions: "For the record, it just looks condescending and inappropriate for one of the great minds of the national media to sit, notebook in hand, quizzing this younger woman, as someone said, as if she were a grad student." Goodness yes. Holding a reporter's notebook and asking questions. Charlie should have known better than to do that while interviewing a 44-year-old woman running for vice president of the United States.

Something tells me our nation's right wing has gone soft. They had the media so cowed for so long that it's now considered "condescending and inappropriate" for reporters to do their jobs. This also says a lot about the right wing's attitude toward women: if they can't answer mildly-difficult questions about important policy issues, it's not because they're ill-prepared fuckwits who have no business running for a city council position, much less national office. No. It's because the reporter is being too hard on the poor dear. How could a woman be expected to answer such difficult questions?

If you're not infuriatingly insulted, you've got issues.

And if you swallow this load of bullshit, you don't just have issues, you have subscriptions:

During an interview yesterday on ABC, Gov. Sarah Palin (R-AK) indicated that she did not know what the so-called Bush Doctrine is. When asked for her interpretation, Palin guessed, “His worldview?

Even though Palin was unaware of the foundation of President Bush’s national security strategy, some in the media have come to her defense, arguing that ordinary Americans don’t know about it either. In short, the vice president of the United States shouldn’t be any more intelligent than “most” Americans:

CNN’s Jessica Yellin: The question is given that many Americans themselves don’t know what the Bush doctrine is… it’s unclear how much of a fallout that would be — that question and the answer would have.”

CNN’s David Gergen: She didn’t know what the Bush doctrine was. But I don’t think most people know what the Bush doctrine is or was.

CNN’s Candy Crowley dismissed the gaffe by saying that regular Americans don’t care. Fox News’s Juan Williams gave Palin a pass because he admitted that he also wouldn’t have been able to answer the question:

WILLIAMS: I thought actually Charlie did try a gotcha question with this business about the Bush doctrine – which if you ask me in the middle of the night, I would have been: “What? What?”

What the fuck is this shit? Call me a dirty liberal elitist, but one of the prime criteria I've always had for those who would be leaders is that they should know what the fuck they're doing. I believe they should know a fuck of a lot more than I do. I've just suffered eight years of having a President who's dumb as a stump, running around the world like it's his own fucking backyard and all he needs to do is clear some brush with some cluster bombs to make it jest right, and now I have this specter looming in front of my face of another four fucking years of ignorant whackos running this nation's foreign policy, economy, environmental agencies, and a billion other things that ensure I stay safe, secure, and can eat and breathe, and you want to tell me that Sarah Fucking Palin gets a pass on ignorance because she's as ill-informed as the average American?

No no no no no.

No more average Joes and Janes in the fucking White House.

No more fucking piss-poor excuses.

No more of this shit.

At this point, I'm not only hoping the Democrats sweep White House, Senate and House, but that the Republicon party doesn't survive. Seriously. I hope that they implode under the force of their ignorance and bigotry and warmongering. I hope the culture war they started destroys them. We need that party to crash and burn, because it's the only way a saner conservative party is going to have a chance of emerging. I don't mind conservatives. I do mind batshit insane fuckheads with their lies and their lame fucking excuses poisoning this nation's political discourse and having a stranglehold on its freedoms.

Here's hoping that this election cycle turns out to be their swan song.

And good luck, Galveston.

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