Wednesday, May 05, 2010

The Daily Babble

It's a complete terrorism law enforcement triumph at every level: federal in particular. Just 53 hours after a terrorist bombing was attempted in Times Square, a suspect was in custody and confessed. Possible confederates in Pakistan were being arrested and questioned.

But America as a whole can't applaud those facts, and be reassured, without GOPers braying about reading him his Miranda rights (he confessed without being tortured! What an outrage!), or even that the Obama administration failed to catch the criminal before he committed the crime (that charge by a former NY governor yet.) President Obama said that we won't be terrorized. But GOPers terrorize based on success.

As toxic as this might be on many levels, when the same kind of politics is played over something like the Gulf oil gusher, we get ridiculously distracted from anticipating what the consequences might be, which could lead--who knows?--to dealing with the consequences better, and even taking preventive action.

It's one thing to utter insane charges, but it's quite another to waste public news time on them. Chris Matthews interviewed disgraced former FEMA chief Michael Brown so he could air his charges that the federal government deliberately delayed its response for political purposes. Matthews told him he thought it was insane, but the real question came from his next guest, Howard Dean, who asked, why did you even have that guy on? Well, it gave Chris a chance to do a "tough interview," and get blog time. But as we're going to learn as this situation develops, sometimes what is wasted is lost forever, and in this case, it's the time to consider the real possible impacts. And there are lots of people who are able and willing to talk about that: the range of possible ecological, economic and societal effects.

I don't know, maybe that's what PBS is for. But it seems to me that we can't head off the worst effects if we never discuss the future in real terms, in real possibilities, contingencies, plans, actions. If all the information is from political blogs and shows, we might never know they even exist. In fact, the only place I heard any of that kind of analysis was on CNBC, where the future is of interest only as far as it affects business. But even that's better than political fights over nonsense.

Meanwhile, in the Gulf on Tuesday, favorable winds kept the oil mostly at bay. But that can't last forever. Dana Milbank writes about the anti-government conservatives who are now crying for federal help, in his Washington Post piece, Through oil-fouled water, big government looks better and better.

Meawhile, NPR contributes a narrative of the oil gush from the start until now.

So I leave you to a happy Cinco de Mayo, which is a bigger deal here in California than the rest of the country--or for that matter, Mexico. Which I will be celebrating with a root canal. Oh how I wish that to be a joke.

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