August 26, 2006

Friday night and the new "Real Time with Bill Maher."

Did you watch Episode 1 of the new season of "Real Time with Bill Maher" last night? I hope you didn't, because it was Friday night, and it would probably be good if you had something more exciting to do, though perhaps you had to work or participate in an argument or drink yourself into a stupor or rob a restaurant like Honey Bunny and Pumpkin:
Nobody ever robs restaurants. Bars, liquor stores, gas stations... you get your head blown off sticking up one of them. Restaurants on the other hand, you catch with their pants down. They're not expecting to get robbed. Not as expectant anyway.
But who am I to pry into your Friday night? I watched the show, mostly because I saw that Markos Moulitsas and Christopher Hitchens were going to be on -- and they're two characters I follow, more or less, not to the point where I think about what they'd do on a Friday night if they weren't doing "Real Time with Bill Maher." But they were there, Hitchens looking unusually healthy. Markos, perky as ever, with those big eyes and that turn-the-world-on-with-your smile.

Bill did his typical monologue, each joke beginning with the recitation of a recent news story and then swooping down for a low punchline. One punchline, about Mark John Karr -- he's so hilarious -- made me laugh, but I can't remember it this morning.

Then he interviewed Spike Lee, who was there -- on a video screen -- to promote his documentary "When the Levees Broke." But Lee wasn't into the promotion enough to pump any energy into the segment. Maher shifted from the subject of Lee's movies to the topic of a recent Bob Herbert column -- TimeSelect link -- and quoted the line "If white people were doing to black people what black people are doing to black people, there would be rioting from coast to coast." (The column was about Juan Williams's new book "Enough." And I wish the Times would make it available now for open linking.) Spike Lee acted like he couldn't understand what Herbert was talking about. Maher got stern and said he knew what it meant, and Lee murmured his way to the finish line.

Next up was Elvis Costello, who had something to promote, I think. And it was his birthday, which is such a less interesting fact than people seem to realize. We were supposed to care that he took time from his birthday -- like it matters when you've had 52 of them and when he was only on a video screen. For some reason, Maher went into a riff about how there's never been a whiff of scandal about Elvis Costello and his name is as pure as the driven snow or some such nonsense. Elvis opted neither to agree or disagree, and I made a mental note to Google later, because I thought there was something. Yeah. This:
In March 1979, Costello capped off this productive period in his extra-artistic life by getting himself into a scrap with Stephen Stills (of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young fame) and Bonnie Bramlett (a minor singer from the '60s) in a hotel bar in Ohio. Again motivated by an unclear principle, he did his best to offend them, finally resorting to a burst of profanity and bigotry, capped with the assertion that Ray Charles was a "blind, ignorant n*****."

There's no evidence that Costello was a racist -- he'd been active in Rock Against Racism before it was fashionable and was too smart in any event to let it show if he was -- but he was being as stupid, reckless and out of control as any of the broken-down '60s stars his energy, brains and invective were supposed to be an antidote for. In any event, Bramlett industriously publicized the exchange and Costello tried to explain and apologize. He took his lumps in a months-long transatlantic brouhaha; to this day some serious critics hold him in contempt.
In any event, Costello showed all signs of being more boring than Spike Lee so I muted the sound and finished the Friday crossword.

I unmuted when the panel came out. It was Christopher Hitchens, Senator Max Cleland, and Vali Nasr (a scholar who's written this book -- "The Shia Revival"). Maher framed a question about Iraq in terms of how finally, after all these years, even the idiots have figured out that the war in Iraq has nothing to do with terrorism. He cited a poll that showed only 1% of Brits thought it did. The other guests went along with the demonstration of how everybody knows this is true, and you, the HBO subscriber, were supposed to get the point that you're going to be an object of horrible mockery if you don't get in line. It was Hitchens's turn, and he called himself one of "the elite," because he was in that 1%, and proceeded to explain why. When the audience booed, he gave them the finger and said "F**k you." Then, when Maher tried to recentralize his point that everyone knows Iraq has nothing to do with terrorism and the audience cheered, Hitchens turned on the audience and abused them again. He abused Maher too, for leading the herd along and building himself up with their cheap support, and then he praised Maher for not letting Spike Lee wriggle out of the question he damned well understood. Hitchens knows how to do TV. [ADDED: Video!]

Maher had a comic bit set up where he had various products that you can't take on a plane anymore, like a bottle of "Jihad, Your Hair Smells Terrific" and "Behead and Shoulders." There were about ten of these things, and the funniest part of it really was how much it cracked up Senator Cleland. In case you're wondering if the format has changed, Maher also did his "New Rules" routine.

And somewhere in the middle of that, they video-screened Markos Moulitsas, who lacked any edge or ennui or signs of age or anything but the positive energy of a guy doing an interview for college admission. He believes in his blog project and it's all for the good, bringing people together, la, la, la. Maher has no material to make this interesting, so he resorts to a discussion of the word "blog." He doesn't like it. That's so 2004, Bill. Ending the interview, Maher says, "Goodbye, Carlos." Carlos. Come on. If it was Carlos, it would be The DailyLos. Ah, well, I'm sure Markos found a way to take a cloudy night and suddenly make it all seem worthwhile.

100 comments:

Elizabeth said...

I can't figure how Maher couldn't get any energy out of Spike Lee over "When the Levees Broke." He's been doing publicity for the past two weeks on that, and was a lot more engaged with a simple local TV critic. I guess the only reason he was on Maher's show was to meet some HBO demand.

One important detail was omitted from the Costello dustup: Bramlett popped him one in the snout. I remember being particularly cheered by that at age 19.

Nancy said...

I think I prefer your write-up of the show than actually seeing the show.

PatCA said...

Now I'll have to watch it. I thought it was a rerun of last season!

Markos is a one-note samba. TV chat shows would reveal that.

Anybody seen Lee's doc? He's one of my favorite filmmakers, but I can guess the tired old themes in When the Levees Broke and don't need to spend 4 hours getting hit over the head.

Jim said...

Does Juan Williams mispronounce his name like everyone else does? It's not as if native English speakers can't say "hwan" or "joo-en." Williams is anything but "wan."

Ann Althouse said...

PatCa: I've watched parts of it. I don't know if there's an arc to the presentation, but it was a sequence of interviews with people who had gone through the storm or scenes of them returning to see the wreck that was their home. I saw one long sequence of an elderly woman being shown her home for the first time. It's exactly what you would picture if you read about it, but you feel much more emotion. I saw a woman talking about her drowned daughter and showing the photograph. Reading that sentence won't make you cry, but the scene in the film will, for reasons you understand without seeing the film.

Jim: Does it bother you when people pronounce words like "where" and "what" without getting the "h" sound in? It's awfully common.

Elizabeth said...

Pat, sure, yeah, that Katrina thing is sooooo yesterday. Yawn. Don't worry your beautiful mind about it.

XWL said...

Watching Hitchens eviscerate Maher was brilliant.

The entrails spilling on to the floor must have been tough on the clean-up crew after the show, though.

How many other folks who graduated from Yale, and have an MBA from Harvard are constantly accused of being idiots?

(legacy may have got him in to Yale, but legacy doesn't pass classes for you, and it doesn't get you in to an MBA program at Harvard)

Chum said...

'He's one of my favorite filmmakers, but I can guess the tired old themes in When the Levees Broke and don't need to spend 4 hours getting hit over the head.'

Themes?,THEMES? A national disaster is a theme? It doesn't bother you that your tax dollars are wasted on dysfunctional organisations, disinterested officials and government. I take it you don't live in any of the states that Katrina hit. Poor you having your TV filled with first anniversary coverage this weekend. Sheesh!

I thought the documentmentary was well done in that he let people speak for themselves. Of course it highlighted the terrible things that happened and the lack of response. It's not as if he made things up that didn't happen. In fact he illuminated the rumors and misinformation that occured due to no communication. "They're raping babies." He also showed the positive, people helping people stuff and how the political egos of many of the politicians got in the way of 'helping the people'.

Elizabeth said...

Ann, I've only been able to watch part of the film; it's too overwhelming. But the parts you describe represent pretty much what I've seen, and what's exceedingly good about his approach. I do think he gives too much weight to recounts of people who believe the Industrial Canal was blown up to keep water out of the French Quarter and Garden Districts. It didn't happen. There are reasons the people in that area believe the conspiracy myth, but it's a destructive myth that Lee should have more overtly disputed.

Otherwise, anyone who watches Lee's film should get a good idea of what it's like to live in New Orleans after the levees (canals, really) broke. It ain't history, and there's nothing tired nor old about the themes of what happened, how did it happen, how did we respond, what should we be doing now, and how do we live day by day as we adjust and rebuild.

For another amazing story, read this five-part account of the storm week at Memorial Hospital (where the doctor and two nurses are accused of euthanizing four patients): For Dear Life. I can't find where the newspaper has it compiled, so scroll to the bottom and read up, from Sunday through Thursday.

Ruth Anne Adams said...

Hitchens is always media-ready. He also fully understands the nature of the Islamo-fascists.

Maher looked like a corpse.

Thanks for saving me the HBO fee.

Elizabeth said...

The police chief, Eddie Compass, who said "they're raping babies" (was it on Oprah?) resigned under pressure but recently more has come out on why he lost it so publicly. He was told that his 19-year-old daughter had been raped in the hotel where she was sheltering. Another officer, the NOPD information officer, was told his wife had drowned in the flood. He took some time off, went to a parking lot and blew his head off. His wife was fine. The rumors and misinformation after the storm were deadly, hateful things.

PatCA said...

"Don't worry your beautiful mind about it."

Oh, give me a break. Do you come around here just to insult people who wander off the liberal reservation? I hope you and Chum get a big buzz off your moral superiority.

If you had asked, I would you have told you that I'm tired of themes like "Bush doesn't care about black people, babies are being raped" etc., etc. Lee is political. If he does actually debunk the myths, which I doubt, great, I'll watch it. I'm sure it will open my wingnut, bigoted, uncaring mind. Nagin for President!

Ron said...

Ann, can you be the Betty White to Kos' Mary Tyler Moore? Does this make Glenn Ed Asner?

Elizabeth said...

Pat, I don't see how you can expect to make such a smug, selfish comment and expect it to go by unremarked. And now you've responded with your usual jump to assuming everything is about anti-Bush politics and liberalism. I was deeply taken aback by your comment because it was dismissive and shallow, not out of any ideological perspective.

Am I out of line to ask that you offer just a little bit of respect to your fellow Americans when talking about the biggest disaster on American soil--yes, bigger than 9/11? Before you wail about being bashed over the head with some tired old themes, give a little thought to the 1800 people who died and the hundreds of thousands who lost their homes.

Nagin is a pro-Bush conservative, by the way, and an incompetant ass. You don't want him for President.

Elizabeth said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
SMGalbraith said...

Nagin is a pro-Bush conservative, by the way

Well, not really, please.

An openly pro-Bush conservative never would have been elected mayor of New Orleans, either post- or pre-Katrina. It's about 80% Democrat.

Granted, a moderate Democrat in Louisiana is probably a conservative elsewhere in the country. Politics in LA is an odd sport (I was born in N.O. and live about 90 miles outside of it).

It is true that Nagin ran as a businessman and some in the black community called him "Ray Reagan". That's not meant as a compliment for those not watching closely.

And, IIRC, he switched parties shortly before getting elected the first time.

Elizabeth said...

SMG, he did indeed change from the GOP to Democrat to run for mayor the first time. He also endorsed the GOP candidate for governor. I don't think there's any problem in describing him as Bush-style conservative and still accounting for his election. In the first, he took advantage of a large enough conservative white vote and in the second he was able to combine that same demographic with new fans among black voters who feared losing the office to a white candidate.

LoafingOaf said...

It's been explained to Maher in the past that there were terrorists such as Zarqawi, Abu Nidal, and Yusef in Iraq before America invaded. How can it be that Maher still says he doesn't know this? Is he too used to getting away with saying things that get applause even if they don't hold up to scrutiny?

OR are the people with the mantras about there being no terrorists in Iraq before America got there consciously trying to mislead people about facts that are inconvenient to their talking points?

I've seen a lot of episodes of Maher's show and if you're gonna go on there and not conform to the mantras and conventional wisdoms of Maher, his audience, and his panels, you have to be prepared for what you're in for, be ready to fight and zing 'em like Hitch did, or else you have no chance. The show doesn't allow for deep discussion and debate.

The best you can do is, after the trained seals clap at a one-liner, say something that might make them pause and feel maybe they shouldn't have been so quick to believe Maher's one-liner or Max Cleland's partisan talking point said all they need to know on the matter.

On a past episode I've seen Maher's audience cheer when Maher has said that democracy is something Arab people can't relate to and maybe we should have Saddam back. They really will clap at anything if their host tells them it means Bush is stupid and they are supposedly the smart ones for clapping.

Hitch handled himself well. I liked when he said that the idiot jokes about Bush have become the jokes for dumb people.

The thing that bothered me about Elvis Costello (who seemed like a decent fellow) was when he tried to spin Katrina into a case that we should've left Saddam Hussein alone. Don't see what one has to do with the other.

PatCA said...

You didn't "remark" Elizabeth, you insulted, without any idea of my sympathies or my monetary donations to help your city. But never let an opportunity to nurse your grudges pass you by!

And, yes, I would watch it, Ann, if I thought it would have a non-ideological slant. This article from a social justice group makes me doubt that even more.

"Nagin is a pro-Bush conservative, by the way, and an incompetant ass." And yet you elected him again! But I'm sure it was all part of the Rovian plot.

But don't let me stop your pity party. I'm out of here.

Freeman Hunt said...

Pat, I don't see how you can expect to make such a smug, selfish comment and expect it to go by unremarked.

I think you're projecting things into Pat's original comment. I didn't read it that way at all. As I understood it, she was saying that she thought Spike Lee would use tired themes and beat her over the head with them in his movie. She didn't comment on the Katrina disaster at all.

SMGalbraith said...

Elizabeth:
I don't think there's any problem in describing him as Bush-style conservative a

Well, what standard or measure/yardstick are you using?

By Louisiana standards (oy, there's a post right there), he's a middle of the road Democrat (roughly). By national Democratic standards, he'd be right of center.

Seems to me he's somewhat of a Bennett Johnston/John Breaux type.

As you know, it's hard to compare LA politics with other regions. Bizarro.

But I certainly wouldn't consider him a Bush conservative.

There. I had the last word (ahem).

SMG

tjl said...

PatCa, "pity party" was unkind. On the first anniversary of Katrina, Elizabeth is having to contemplate some pretty grim prospects for her beautiful, beloved city. A little sensitivity is in order.

Elizabeth said...

Freeman, I always respect your level-headed approach, even when I disagree with you, so I'll accept your observation and agree I'm probably projecting a bit, but not so much as to create something from nothing. Pat's tone was dismissive and bored. She can guess enough to dismiss the whole four-hour documentary as nothing but anti-Bush rant. That's shameful.

Elizabeth said...

Pat, any help you've offered the city is much appreciated. But how am I supposed to glean anything from your blunt words? Bush is going to continue to come under criticism about his, and FEMA's, response to Katrina. So will the governor, the Corps of Engineers, the mayor, all up and down the chain of command. If a little negativity about Bush is enough for you to dismiss something as tired and old, I'd suggest you have a blind spot.

I didn't elect Nagin, but I guess it never occurs to you to make an inquiry before slinging criticism based on your assumptions about politics. And I'm having to live with the consequences of his poor leadership, so I'm not sure what you have to complain about.

Elizabeth said...

SMG, we're pretty much on the same page about Lousiana conservative/liberal, GOP/Democrat matrix. But I don't consider Nagin an actual Democrat. He changed party only because he had to. The guy's a Republican, or maybe a Libertarian. Endorsing Bobby Jindal is a good indicator of his GOP leanings, but his laissez-faire approach to letting people rebuild whereever they want is a Libertarian trait. The only Democrat indicator is the D after his name on the ballot.

SMGalbraith said...

pretty grim prospects for her beautiful, beloved city.

I was born in New Orleans in the early 1960s and I can recall hearing as a young boy every hurricane season that "This year we're going to get the big one."

And every year would pass and New Orleans would survive. After awhile, folks got complacent.

The local and state officials never ever did what was necessary to mitigate the "big one." Never.

Hurricane levee funds were diverted, things were sloppily handled. It's Louisiana folks.

Worst schools, worst roads, worst public services in the nation. Great people; not so great otherwise.

If you want an easy explanation, blame Bush. Or Nagin. Or Blanco.

But if you want the right explanation, you'll have to dig deep into the political history of New Orleans.

And that's harder than just blaming one guy.

SMG

Elizabeth said...

Rovian plot? Pity party?

Where are you getting any of this from anything I've posted? I don't know how to respond to things you just make up and throw out there.

Kev said...

"Does it bother you when people pronounce words like "where" and "what" without getting the "h" sound in? It's awfully common."

It almost bothers me more when the "h" sound is included--especially when one of my college roommates, on the way to the bathroom, used to say "I have to go take a "hwiz" now." That just struck me as ├╝ber-dorky.

(But then again, I'm the guy who thinks pronouncing "aunt" as "ahnt" sounds pretentious--maybe because I grew up with an "Aunt Bee" [who predated the one on Andy Griffith], so the nickname wouldn't have worked with the other pronunciation.)

Elizabeth said...

SMG, you can dig all the way back to 1871, when the city decided to put pumps closer to the inhabited areas rather than at the mouths of the canals that lead to the lake. Then jump up to the 1950s when Congress mandated changes to the Industrial Canal that made the Lower 9th Ward and St. Bernard Parish more vulnerable to flooding, then to the 70s and 80s, when the U.S. Corps of Engineers neglected to use updated elevation levels and hurricane strength fctors in designing the canals that failed after Katrina, and to the same period when the Corps and the local engineering companies doing the actual construction of said levees ignored soil reports that would have led to stronger and deeper, but more expensive, T-shape walls over I-shaped walls that slid out of place when the soft soil below them shifted under the weight of water. There's surely a history of misdirected money, but there's plenty more to the story, crossing both parties, and encompassing state, local and national elected and appointed officials and bureaucrats.

Anyone whose region has Corps of Engineers' projects protecting them ought not to sit easy and think, "well, that' just a problem in Louisiana, with Louisiana corruption." Ask people riding through the Big Dig about that.

DookOfURL said...

Elizabeth, I just got an email from my cousin in Slidell saying they had just booked 7 rooms at a hotel in Hattiesburg MS in advance of Ernesto.

Her parents (my aunt and uncle) had their house complete destroyed by Katrina and both my Slidell cousins are living in FEMA trailers, and so, as she said in her email, concerning hurricanes, "we all have a new attitude".

I do hope that the "new attitude" is shared by everyone in the NOLA area, and that no one will be waiting around for the gummit to save them.

Lessons learned.

Elizabeth said...

In the interest of defusing this thread a bit, let me turn the Katrina focus to something a little more universally reviled, lawyers. Oh, crap, wrong blog.

But I've really wanted to hear some informed opinion from lawyers on this story, so I'll continue. A guy who stayed for the storm managed to hotwire a nice boat as the waters hit his neighborhood, and managed to rescue about 200 people from their homes, including an old fellow with kidney failure, and some of the patients stuck in Memorial Hospital. Now, the owner of the boat is suing him for the amount insurance failed to cover on the boat, $12k. The suit even alleges the hero stole the boat to get attention for his law practice. Any opinions?

AJ Lynch said...

Ann:
You are great but I think Maher sucks and has not been funny for years. And I was on the boardwalk in Ocean City, NJ so you are right again.

And did Bob Herbert really have to read Juan Wiliams' book to see what is happening in the poorer black communities? Oh that's right,Herbert just cuts and pastes press releases to "write his column".

God, I remember when good columnists were great observers of the American scene and had their own unique and original thoughts.

SMGalbraith said...

has Corps of Engineers' projects protecting them ought not to sit easy an

Very true. And to me pretty shocking.

I always assumed that they were doing the job even if the funds weren't always adequate. Since nothing major ever happened after a storm, I just thought, "Well, the levees were okay even though everything else is a mess."

Enough from me on this.

Good luck.

Steve

Elizabeth said...

Dook, I'm so sorry your family has suffered so much. But I'm also relieved to hear they won't ride out anything rough in their FEMA trailers.

I hope you're right about a change in attitude. Some still won't have the resources to help themselves, particularly the old, but with the population down so much, many of the elderly are not here, nor are many of the very, very poor. Amtrack has brought in seven trains; the National Guard, as you know, is already in place; and there are some central places to go for bus transport. The city (Nagin) hasn't done enough in my mind to fully publicize and clarify the evacuation plan, so I likewise hope most people have their own means.

Freeman Hunt said...

Now, the owner of the boat is suing him for the amount insurance failed to cover on the boat, $12k.

Unreal. What kind of person wouldn't be glad that his vehicle saved 200 people in a disaster?

Aspasia M. said...

Now, the owner of the boat is suing him for the amount insurance failed to cover on the boat, $12k.

That's just horrible.

(I curious about the context: Did something happen to the boat? Was damage caused by the hurricane? Why would the owner of the boat sue the hero who used the boat to save lives?)

Chum said...

'Oh, give me a break. Do you come around here just to insult people who wander off the liberal reservation? I hope you and Chum get a big buzz off your moral superiority.'

I don't give a toss about your odious US politics. My comment about a dysfunctional government is about the incompetence of employees from the top down. As for the politicians; you get the administration you voted for.

That you dismiss the tragedy of your brothers and sisters as a theme when the subject of a film reflects an uncommon indifferance to the misfortune of others. Deal with it.

Chum said...

Elizabeth;

Not the boat insurance story you're commenting about, but I was pretty shocked at the behavior of the insurance companies themselves. Wow, salt in the wound when you've seen your life's work go floating off in the sewerage.

Elizabeth said...

The boat was lost; the guy who used it left it when he finally evacuated. Here's the story: Katrina Rescuer Sued by Boat Owner.

Elizabeth said...

Chum: that insurance problem is part of what Lee's movie examines. There's a scene with actor Wendell Pierce (HBO, The Wire) talking about his dad's losing the house he'd paid insurance on for 50 years and getting screwed by the agency. Mississippi Sen. Trent Lott had the same problem. And now it's being alleged that State Farm actually shredded reports by examiners that blamed wind rather than flooding for damage, so they wouldn't have to pay the claims. This story's far from over.

Elizabeth said...

I should add that this boat situation happened all over town. I would have taken a boat if I had been here and able to start it up. As soon as I saw the reprts of flooding that first two days, I actually saw in my head places where I know there are boats. Many, many people lost boats in the chaos and none has sued, till now.

I have to drive near the guy's house on Monday; I wonder if the yard will be full of rotten vegetables and bricks with notes tied to them.

Johnny Nucleo said...

Didn't see the show but loved the post. Now I will see the show, even though I hate the show.

(But I love HBO in general. HBO has produced the finest television entertainment of the past 10 years. Why am I telling you this? Because I am passionate about it. HBO deserves props.)

Thank God for Hitchens.

Bill Maher was once a really good comedian.

Meade said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Andrew Shimmin said...

Am I out of line to ask that you offer just a little bit of respect to your fellow Americans when talking about the biggest disaster on American soil--yes, bigger than 9/11?

Using what metric?

I do like it that you've berated a commenter for failing to watch the same documentary that you mostly didn't watch.

Elizabeth said...

Choose a metric, Andrew. But it doesn't matter. They aren't competing tragedies. In terms of our national psyche, they're both moments of pivotal change.

I've watched some and will finish the four acts; the experience may be a bit different for us unobjective viewers, and many people are taking it in small bites.

Johnny Nucleo said...

It's an interesting question. Comparing 9/11 with Katrina.

For people who did not directly experience either, 9/11 is certainly the bigger deal.

Obviously, if you experienced either one personally, then that would be the bigger deal. But if you're talking "national psyche," there's no comparison.

I don't mean this flippantly. The only reason Katrina means anything - other than bad luck - is that there is this idea that the Feds - Bush - dropped the ball.

Gahrie said...

I do hope that the "new attitude" is shared by everyone in the NOLA area, and that no one will be waiting around for the gummit to save them.

So do I, since the government has always said that you are on your own for at least the first 72 hours after any natural disaster.

hdhouse said...

Elizabeth is quite right. My daughter had just emerged from a night shift job from Tower II when Tower I was struck. I was on lower broadway on my way to meet her for breakfast when the second plane hit - going so fast you had no realization it was a plane doing the damage until you could see a TV minutes later. The city smell of death for months. On the train home that evening, you could easily tell the "close to it" people by the dust.

I had the bad fortune of watching New Orleans in slow motion. Watching the storm brew and take aim, hearing the reports of the breeches, watching television crews get in and get the story, watching Brownie fumble and falter like the village idiot and then having the real village idiot for the ages have to interrupt golf and fundraising for a "flyover" after his aids put together a little DVD so the boychild didn't have to read.

You can take all your Yale "purty good for a C student" - had to be good to get in that thar school and your Harvard MBA bullcrap and shove it. This empty suit is braindead and that Maher lights him up like the tinsel brained shrub that he is suits us all well.

Hitchens did not eviserate Maher. Anyone can act stupid and petulant. Certainly a crushing repartee isn't demonstrated by being able to take your middle finger out of your nose or ear and flash it to the audience. That borishness doesn't pass for anything other than a lack of ability to express.

Iraq had zero to do with planes in the world trade. zero. it also had zero to do with New Orleans. Elizabeth is correct that they are pivotal rather than connected.

WTC demonstrated a certain compassion for the survivors without parallel in our history. However that compassion still doesn't address that 19 inhuman beings could get in this country and do this thing - and 5 years later it is only by pure dumb luck that it hasn't happened again just as it is pure dumb luck that Katrina didn't fire up some other year or this summer or next year and the same lack of reaction would be there in full glory...and Alfred E. Neuman idiotboy with a smirk and a chip with a Hichens-like finger up his nose.

and by the way, if there are "islamo-fascists" (someone please define that???) abroad, does the crescent look at us and see bapto-fascists here?

Tim Sisk said...

Ann: How would Costello's reported comment measure up to Mel Gibson's? Just wondering your perspective on this completely irrelevant topic.

Johnny Nucleo said...

Hdhouse,

You seem very rational and unemotional about all this so let me ask you.

If we had a less dumb president - say, Bill Clinton - and a hurricane was coming, "in slow motion," how would he stop it?

I'm teasing, of course. No one (except Superman) can stop a hurricane. But how would Bill Clinton have handled things better?

Hugs and Oprah? Is that what we're talking about? If not, what are we talking about?

Also, an Islamofascist is someone who thinks you are a big pussy and wants to kill you.

(For the record: I think you are a big pussy too, but I do not want to kill you. This is basically the difference between your political enemy (me) and your existential enemy (Islamosfascists).

Elizabeth said...

What Katrina, and the levee failures post-Katrina, means is microcosmically about Bush. A major metropolitan area of the United States was devastated. About a million people were evacuated and a least a quarter of those are still gone, dispersed around the nation. It's one of the biggest migrations in our history, and it happened within hours. Eighty percent of the city's geography was under water for three weeks, and very little of that has recovered. Crucial parts of our oil infrastructure were destroyed, along with a large portion of our national seafood industry. Along the Gulf Coast entire towns were swiped from the map.

9/11 and Katrina are two different types of events, but to call Katrina a bit of bad luck is off base. Under any president, with a better FEMA setup, the disaster would be unfathomable still. The steps required to rebuild New Orleans and the surrounding parishes, and the Gulf Coast dwarf what has been required of New York. That city itself was able to continue on, with the help of a lot of federal aid. New Orleans faces years of restoring basic services, its schools, its criminal justice sytem, its economy, its streets, its sewerage and water system, its power supply, its mass transit...nothing was untouched. I am beginning to understand that far too many Americans have yet to digest what happened last year.

Elizabeth said...

Johnny, of course no one can stop a hurricane. But you should do a little research on FEMA under Clinton versus FEMA under W. There's worlds of difference. W gutted the very effective agency and made it a dumping ground for political patronage. Under Clinton, it was run by actual emergency professionals. This isn't partisan cheerleading; it's just the facts.

Let me add a definition: a natural disaster doesn't think at all, doesn't care who or what you are, and kills indiscriminately.

Aspasia M. said...

It is horrible behavior for a person to sue the hero who saved over 200 people. And it's ridiculous what the insurance companies are trying to do to the people of the gulf coast.

Elizabeth,

Take care of yourself this weekend. It sounds like it could be rather tramautic. Sometimes people are not as empathetic, as they should be, to others who have lived through traumatic situations.

I am still shocked at how utterly incompetent our government was in "responding" to Katrina.

Elizabeth said...

Thanks, geo. It's looking good for us right now, but forecasting when a storm hasn't even passed Cuba yet is pretty much useless. If it goes east of us, that's good (for us, not for the poor folks in Alabama and Florida!) We don't want to be east of the storm, as that's the rainy side. Our levees are probably not up to it yet.

Here's a fun detail: the Corps has been testing tthe pumps they're installing at the mouths of the canals. The damn things start up okay, but then shake so badly they have to shut them down before they come apart. One of those pumps is about a couple of hundred yards from my office. It's a little unnerving.

The disaster isn't a single thing, or one problem. It's vast, and multipart, and continues on. It's the evacuation--mostly that worked, but what didn't work was fatal for too many people; it's the levee failures, the roots of which go way back, and the vulnerabilities continue today; it's the rescue response that was at once heroic and just not enough; it's the actual results of the storm and the flooding that we encounter daily, from a lack of schools to a lack of medical care to a lack of housing and so on; it's all the many governmental failures, from the White House to our city council office. There's no one thing to draw a bead on.

Johnny Nucleo said...

I don't know nothing about FEMA or big bureaucracy. But I do know that if you blame Bush for the destruction of New Orleans, you are insane.

Abraham said...

Hdhouse has brilliantly provided a litany of the "tired themes" that have caused me to lose virtually all sympathy for NOLA. Tired of the unending blame game. Tired of the ceaseless partisan jabbery. Faced with the prospect of having my sympathy classlessly exploited, my only defense is to shed those feelings.

Elizabeth said...

Okay, Johnny. That's fine. But sort of a digression. I haven't done that. I've tried to show that many, many factors have been at play in the disaster in New Orleans. Yes, Bush has some things to be held accountable for. That's not insane to recognize. It's just one piece of the pie, though. Since you admit to knowing nothing about FEMA, then you might withhold judgment about what is and isn't insane to assert about its effectiveness.

Elizabeth said...

Fortunately we'll survive without the weak sympathies of Abraham. I'm surrounded by 200,000 people, each of them with more courage and determination than he can imagine. I have to turn off my feelings of despair that people can let a little hype and partisan bickering deprive them of their human capacity for concern and sympathy. What Abraham calls the blame game is what others know is a necessary accounting that is logical and ethical. If we don't learn from our mistakes, all of us, we'll face them again in the future.

Andrew Shimmin said...

Not any metric will do (death toll won't nearly, for example); that's why I asked which you were using. If you don't want to talk about it, fair enough. You're quite right that there's not much to be gained by ranking them.

It isn't any of my business if you watch Spike Lee's movie or don't. No one is morally obligated to watch any movie.

I disagree that Katrina provoked any pivotal changes, much less one on par with 9/11, save demographical. There'll never be as many people in New Orleans, again, and, really, the fewer the better. It's still mostly below sea level, still in the natural path of the Mississippi River, still on the Gulf of Mexico; it'll flood again someday, no question. FEMA is still worthless (the only thing it even might be any good at is writing checks/passing out debit cards, but then it feels the need to let peeping Toms sort through the debit card records), the same crooks still run the city. Brownie's scalp feels nice, but it can't be worth much. For all the necessary, logical accounting, only a very few mistakes look like they won't be made again. But perhaps I simply haven't courage enough to see how right you are.

Meade said...

From the article Elizabeth linked to, Mark Morice: "Next time there's a major storm or natural disaster and I'm called to save lives, I'll try to remember to bring a pen and paper,"

Does that tone strike you as sarcastic? It does me. Even heroes can be hubristic. He took the risk of using the guy's boat without having permission and he failed to return it to the owner. He did some good deeds for which he deserves to take pride. But why should the boat owner alone suffer the loss of property? And what is wrong with a lawsuit? Is there a better way to settle the dispute? Would you prefer street justice? Elizabeth commented: "I wonder if the yard will be full of rotten vegetables and bricks with notes tied to them." I wonder why not contributions instead, as a way of thanking the man for the use of his boat and defraying his losses?

Ann Althouse said...

A lot of discussion here during the night!

Johnny Nucleo: I agree that HBO is great, even though "The Sopranos" disappointed me last season, and I hate that they cancelled "The Comeback." And "Real Time" needs to be better. Hitchens put his finger on a problem that I've written about before: the audience cheers one side of the debate and does it in a perfectly mindless way that Maher encourages. And the show needs better comedy writers.

Tim: How do I compare Costello with Gibson. Costello made was trying to provoke Stills and Bramlett by saying a lot of outrageous things that he could dredge out of his head, and that was one of them. When compared with the rest of his life story, though, he doesn't seem to be a racist. Gibson was talking to the police, but maybe he was just trying to be outrageous for effect. Put together with other things we know from his life, we have a hard time shrugging it off. Costello's offense is mostly using the epithet, while Gibson expressed the more complex thought... for what it's worth. Both of them said what they said and are paying a price.

tjl said...

Andrew Shimmin is pretty cavalier about Katrina's aftermath:

"I disagree that Katrina provoked any pivotal changes, much less one on par with 9/11, save demographical. There'll never be as many people in New Orleans, again, and, really, the fewer the better."

We're not discussing the flooding of Peoria here. New Orleans is a name that resonates through the history of American music, literature, architecture, and cooking. As a nation we have few places that can stand comparison with the great old cities of Europe or Asia, and New Orleans is one of them. We can't just write off the city because it's expensive to repair. It would be as if the Italian government decided to cut those high maintenance costs and let Venice go back to the sea.

knoxgirl said...

"Real Time" would be infinitely more satisfying to watch if the audience weren't so pandering--but given Maher's politics, who would be enthusiastic enough to see his show live but the most unthinking cheerleaders?

Maher gave Ward Churchill a sympathetic interview... in other words, he has lost all intellectual honesty. That makes for a pretty predictable, dull show when it comes down to it. (I used to like Politically Incorrect.)

Kevin L. Connors said...

The panel discussion really has become quite formulaic and dull. And I'm pretty sure they now rely strictly on the student bodies of west LA unis for their studio audience.

The erudite Hitchens is one who can generally hold his own as the token opposition panelist, particularly as he has a far superior command of the facts than either Maher or Cleland. I was actually a bit disappointed to see him lose his cool, and flip-off the audience.

BTW: I like your new pic, Ann.

Elizabeth said...

Andrew, FEMA runs under the Dept. of Homeland Security. Its performance is what all of us can expect in the event of another terrorist attack on US soil. I'm glad you can shrug that off. What we learned about evacuation and rescue will be needed again, somewhere along the Gulf or East coasts, even as far up as Manhattan. And in your terms, 9/11 just blew up a few blocks in New York. No need for anyone outside of Manhattan to get upset. If there is another attack, it'll probably be New York again. Not my problem.

somefeller said...

Ann, I'm not sure your critique of Maher's show as being one in which "the audience cheers one side of the debate and does it in a perfectly mindless way that Maher encourages" is a particularly salient one. It's in the nature of a political talkshow in which there is a single host for the audience to line up with the host. Rush Limbaugh's (largely ill-fated) foray into TV talkshows followed a similar pattern, though I don't think he had any guests on his show, and it's only natural that people who are willing to spend time and money to attend Maher's show are going to line up with him on the issues and cheer his side. Complaining about that fact is kind of like complaining water is wet. It's just the nature of things.

Also, for those who say that Hitchens eviscerated Maher on the show, I don't think Hitchens eviscerated anyone on the show, unless dropping F-bombs at the audience like some B-list rapper counts as witty repartee. I've seen Hitchens do better in the past, and quite frankly, the man is slipping.

Oh, and Johnny Nucleo, I can suggest at least one way we know for sure Clinton would have handled things better than Bush as per Katrina: if history is any guide, he would have had a guy like James Lee Witt [he was Clinton's FEMA chief, and a man who was generally acknowledged as being knowledgeable and competent in his job, in case you haven't heard of him] running FEMA, rather than Michael Brown. Would that have stopped a hurricane? No, but it would have meant that the guy running the agency charged with disaster management would have been a competent public official, rather than a low-level crony.

Elizabeth said...

meade,

Hundreds of boats were taken from yards, driveways and businesses by citizen rescuers and first responders. I doubt many were returned. There are still, to this day, boats heaved up against trees, interstate underpasses, and on neutral grounds (very wide, grassy medians), just resting right where they were last used, or where they floated to as the water receded.

No one, not a single person, has sued over this until now. Everyone has just accepted their loss as their contribution to saving human lives. This guy should shut up and take his $12K hit and thank God he had something to offer the rescue effort. Suing Morice, and using the suit to imply Morice used the boat just for grandstanding, indicates a real asshole is somewhere behind this, either the owner or his lawyer. Morice went to the home after the storm to explain what had happened, and only after that did they decide to sue him, after they had a name to put on the lawsuit.

Without having a first-hand view of the kind of sacrifices people made here, maybe this lawsuit sounds like standard operating procedure. But it's not.

Palladian said...

"Hitchens put his finger on a problem that I've written about before: the audience cheers one side of the debate and does it in a perfectly mindless way that Maher encourages."

This is the main thing that has always put me off of such shows- the audience. I remember when Limbaugh had that TV show and I would happen to run across it during a jog through the channels. My skin would crawl when I would see his cloned audience making "ditto" marks in the air. It's one of the reasons I can't stand watching "The Daily Show" either (the other being Jon Stewart's personality), the audience cheering and hooting when Stewart gives them the proper cue lines.

Actually, I hate audiences in general. Nothing reveals the ugliest aspects of humanity like putting humans together in a big group.

Meade said...

Elizabeth, It seems to me you are making a number of assumptions based on that one newspaper article about something of which you have only some of the facts. Did Mark Morice try to return the boat to its rightful owner? Do you think he should have made any sort of good faith effort to do so? Mr. Morice's heroism gained him favorable publicity which may have benefited his personal injury law practice. If, say, as an attorney, those actions led to his income increasing by twenty-four thousand dollars, would you consider it fair for half of that amount to go directly to the boat owner to mitigate his losses?

"This guy should shut up and take his $12K hit and thank God he had something to offer the rescue effort. Suing Morice, and using the suit to imply Morice used the boat just for grandstanding, indicates a real asshole is somewhere behind this, either the owner or his lawyer."

Well then, judgment for the defendant. Don't forget to pound that gavel.

Andrew Shimmin said...

Elizabeth- Nothing I wrote can be honestly interpreted as meaning anything like what you attribute to me. I did not even address (except in the most oblique way, in response to an assertion of yours that you decided not to defend) the magnitude of the tragedy, much less dismiss it. I disagreed with your assertion that it had provoked pivotal changes. You don't see fit to list one, I notice (unless you honestly believe making DHS responsible for the purchase of new FEMA stationary to be one; I don't).

Given some of the other comments in this thread, it's clear that there are people who don't care any more. I'm not one of them. But it's no good trying to enforce in other people, the level of grief you think they ought to show. That was my initial objection, it hasn't changed.

Elizabeth said...

meade, I'm making a judgment based on what I know about the situation in New Orleans during the weeks after the storm that neighborhoods were under water and people needed rescuing. At the same time, civilians like Morice were being made to evacuate. No, he didn't return the boat, but I'm not surprised by that. He left it where it could be used by someone else, and evacuated. I think that's exactly the right thing to have done. Perhaps you can explain ehre he might have gotten the gas to return it. He was siphoning gas from cars in elevated parking areas to run it on rescue missions. There was no gas here; it was brought in in tankers for the Guard later. It's more and more apparent that many people have absolutely no clue what it means to have a city 80 percent under water. It strikes me as absurd to want to apply normal standards of conduct (don't take your neighbor's boat, and if you do, return it) to that situation.

I'd be very much in favor of having a fundraiser to help out people who lost property in rescue efforts. I very much think there's something missing in the soul of someone who runs to court and sues because he lost his boat in rescue efforts in a disaster.

Morice, on returning to town, did explain what had happened to the owners. I have no idea if he's made money in his law practice from this, but I doubt it as this is the first time his name has appeared in the news. Where's the big PR that would drive that business to him? His name never came up until he was sued.

Elizabeth said...

Andrew, I posted a vivid description of the magnitude of Katrina and the post-storm flooding, in this thread. That effectively answers your questions about scope. But I won't fall into a trap of arguing that New Yorkers and New Orleanians should be in a contest for Americans' concerns and support.

What on earth are you talking about with DHS and stationery? Do you understand that part of the reason FEMA failed so badly is that is was under DHS at the time, rather than an independent agency? Consider Katrina a good preview of what we can expect from DHS, and demand better.

Meade said...

"I very much think there's something missing in the soul of someone who runs to court and sues because he lost his boat in rescue efforts in a disaster."

I see. In that case, your judgment requires more than just a gavel.

"... this is the first time his name has appeared in the news. Where's the big PR that would drive that business to him? His name never came up until he was sued."

But that isn't true. His name was mentioned in an article in the Washington Times August 30, 2005 and also in an American Bar Association periodical.

Johnny Nucleo said...

Katrina was indeed a mega-event of historic significance: A major American city was virtually destroyed by a hurricane.

But people who knew about the geography of New Orleans (Admittedly, before the hurricane, I didn't) knew that it was going to happen eventually. And it finally did.

So who's to blame? The city? The state? The feds?

Obviously, everyone. But saying, "We're all to blame," is no damn fun.

So what happened? Immediately, the media and the left seized the moment as an opportunity to slam Bush.

Bush played golf while people drowned. Bush put his crony pal in charge of FEMA. Bush should have responded earlier. Bush should have gone there earlier, grabbed a boat and started rescuing people personally. Where was the national guard? Where was the food? Where was the water? Where was Geraldo? (Oh yeah, he was there, trying to start a riot.)

For many people, rightful sympathy turned to tired disgust. This is not the fault of the people of New Orleans. So who is to blame?

Qui bono? Anderson "Screw reporting. Watch me emote!" Cooper, that's who. Katrina made this light-weight fluff-meister a Big Fat Star.

And don't get me started on the media's surreal, pathetic, vomit-inducing, self-congratulation regarding its handling of a story that, in almost every respect, it got completely wrong.

Elizabeth said...

Then obviously he went out in a boat rescuing people to drum up business and feed his ego. Let's hope no one else does anything like that the next time their neighbors' lives are at risk! This lawsuit ought to help ensure we're safe from marauding faux Good Samaritans. I bet that 92 year old dialysis patient regrets helping this nefarious ambulance chaser rake in the big bucks.

Andrew Shimmin said...

I have no questions about the scope, thank you. Whether Katrina is a good preview of anything may be worth considering, but that's not the same as being a, "moment[] of pivotal change."

Elizabeth said...

Well, no, Johnny, the media didn't get nearly every detail flat wrong. They got some stuff wrong, they got, and continue to get, a lot right.

Elizabeth said...

Johnny, you are right that it's no fun. But you aren't reading much actual reporting, certainly no local reporting, if you think that the "we're all to blame" conclusion is not the consensus. It's exactly right, and the point of continuing to examine exactly how various agencies, specific individuals, voters, business interests, ya da ya da, have been at fault is crucial to ensuring we are better protected against flooding, and better prepared for evacuations, in the future. Everyone's under the microscope, it just seems that the right has a hissy fit that Bush is under scrutiny along with everyone else.

Meade said...

Elizabeth, to quote an eminent blogger: "Can you never back off and say that your side overdid it? It would improve your credibility you know."

Abraham said...

Everyone's under the microscope, it just seems that the right has a hissy fit that Bush is under scrutiny along with everyone else.

But this does not match my actual experiences. I have never once personally seen a lefty attribute even 10% of the responsibility to state and local officials as they attribute to Bush. The same people who have told me that Katrina alone should be enough to impeach Bush have expressed complete acceptance of Nagin's re-election.

It's just a fact that it has become a standard lefty rhetorical point that the destruction of Katrina was caused by Bush's negligence/nepotism/racism. Not just that whatever the President may have done was wrong, which is a fair point of argument, but that it's proof that he's evil. That he is the only one that gets such treatment seems manifestly unfair.

Elizabeth said...

Abraham, I may be wrong, but I'll assume most of those people are not Louisianians. Many people here indeed are very angry at their government, but they're not so selective as you describe. Many of us tried very hard to make sure Nagin wasn't re-elected; you should be aware that he got a lot of support not from the left but from white conservatives, some of whom would rather shoot themselves than vote for a Landrieu, and others who simply see him as pro-business and libertarian in his approach to government. Lefties who think being pro-Nagin is being anti-Bush lack information.

Elizabeth said...

meade, what has Anne's comment on Valerie Plame got to do with my opinion on this local lawsuit?

You have not persuaded me to change my view; what is it with your side that you can't just back off and admit when you're wrong?

Meade said...

Elizabeth, this is what your side says: "This guy should shut up and take his $12K hit and thank God he had something to offer the rescue effort."

I say this guy may have been unfairly deprived of his property and he deserves his day in court. Yes, he had something to offer but he didn't choose to offer it. Who are you to decide who should be the ones to be Good Samaritans and how much of a contribution they must make to qualify as being 'good?'

I made private contributions to the rescue effort and I imagine you made private contributions. Our contributions were voluntary. For some reason, you've decided this guy's involuntary contribution of $12K is right and just. By your calculus, this guy should shut up, contribute $60 for each of the 200 individuals rescued by his boat and the heroic efforts of Mark Morice, and then give thanks to God. Why? Because he's a boat owner? Because he evacuated instead of staying? Because you say so?

Here's my problem with what you said: By denying him his day in court, you're willing to selectively apply the law. My side questions that kind of extremism. Please explain to me how my side is overdoing it so I may admit it, perhaps salvage some credibility, and move on. Thanks.

Elizabeth said...

He can have his day in court; I don't deny him that. I look at his decision to do that and say "wow, what a jerk."

The $12k is being denied him by his insurance company; if Morice is made to pay it, that will set a frightening precedent for how people should respond to crisis. Everyone was deprived of property during Katrina; your analogy of voluntary contributions, made from our safe, dry distance, is unrealistic.

Meade, I think you have no picture whatsoever what it was like here during the days that Morice, and many, many others all over town, set out in the streets, found boats and set out to snatch people literally from the jaws of death. Under no circumstances can I agree that it's right to make any of these people pay for the vehicles they took. If I came home to find my car gone, I would have felt the same way, glad that someone had been able get to safety. The few thousand bucks my car is worth isn't anything compared to a life. I'd hope my insurance would cover it, and I'd be severely hampered without it, but I wouldn't take any action toward whoever took it.

Isn't the point of a Good Samaritan defense that extraordinary circumstances protect people acting in good faith to save lives? There's no question that happened here. When I see the selfless acts of people around this city, during the storm and every day since, Lyon's suit just stands out as terribly selfish. I hope whatever jury or judge is called to decide on this one sees it the same way.

Revenant said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Revenant said...

Unreal. What kind of person wouldn't be glad that his vehicle saved 200 people in a disaster?

What I wonder is why those 200 people couldn't manage to reimburse the guy whose boat was stolen to save their lives. That's $60 a person -- disaster or no disaster, that's easy to scrape together over the course of a year.

Meade, I think you have no picture whatsoever what it was like here during the days that Morice, and many, many others all over town, set out in the streets, found boats and set out to snatch people literally from the jaws of death.

How did Morice know that the boat's owner didn't need that boat to save HIS family from death? I mean -- just out of curiousity -- in the event of a disaster, are their any of your possessions I'm not allowed to steal (and fail to return) if I think I have a better use for them than I imagine you do?

Meade said...

I'm cheered, Elizabeth, to see you are not really so dismissive and shallow as to deny Lyons's right to have a court of law consider all the facts in the case and decide the question of whether or not Morice was acting wholly in good faith. Morice can present the Good Samaritan defense and a judge or jury can weigh the evidence and decide who is or isn't a jerk. Much better than rotten vegetables and bricks with notes left in someone's yard, no?

stephenb said...

Love the MTM allusions.

Esteban said...

Johnny Nucleo said:

>(For the record: I think you are a big pussy too, but I do not want to kill you. This is basically the difference between your political enemy (me) and your existential enemy (Islamosfascists).

Johnny - that's one of the best comments I've ever read. So true.

Elizabeth said...

meade, I've never suggested rotten veggies and bricks, but made the worried observation that should I drive by, those hyperbolic items might be in his yard; public sentiment here is rather high against him.

revenant, those are fair questions and answerable. Again, it's a matter of understanding the scope of the crisis in New Orleans, especially in the crucial week after the storm. I doubt anyone knows the names of the 60 people, other than those who identified themselves. Some of them were patients in Memorial Hospital. Rescues happened by the thousands here; no one expects the people to pay for them.

As for how he knew the boat wasn't needed, it was apparent the house was evacuated. There was no one there, and with water filling the streets, we can all safely assume they hadn't gone out shopping.

Let me repeat: there are abandoned rescue boats all over town. I must pass 10 of them on my route to work; two are on the median right in front of my workplace. They're being picked up now, along with abandoned or washed up cars, but just looking at the landscape tells the story. Thousands more people would have died in their attics or atop their houses without both citizens and soldiers and other first responders going out to fetch them. No one who had a hole bashed in their roof to see if anyone was languishing in the attic has complained about that. Needs must prevailed. Lyons is living in a fantasy land; perhaps this is how he's dealing with his PTSD.

Revenant said...

I doubt anyone knows the names of the 60 people, other than those who identified themselves.

That sounds like a big problem for the guy who stole the boat, then.

I have to say I'm puzzled by your attitude that it is apparently ok to steal $12,000 to help others, but wrong to demand that the $12,000 that was stolen from you be repaid. If you want to cast this in terms of being willing to make sacrifices to help the needy, why not condemn the guy who stole the boat for being unwilling to sacrifice $12,000 of HIS money? Why should an innocent man with no involvement in the matter be forced to pay for saving those lives?

Rescues happened by the thousands here; no one expects the people to pay for them.

I would expect the hospital to pay for them, as the hospital had accepted legal responsibility for the well-being of its patients. I would certainly not expect an innocent, uninvolved party to be arbitrarily forced to pay for them.

As for how he knew the boat wasn't needed, it was apparent the house was evacuated.

How so? Did he burglarize the house too, or did he just look at the outside and say "hm, looks empty to me".

There was no one there, and with water filling the streets, we can all safely assume they hadn't gone out shopping

There are numerous reasons why they might have temporarily left their house, but expected to return. You're taking the position that just because everything turned out ok in the end, nothing bad was done. You could argue that a person could reasonably think that there was a good chance the boat wasn't needed. But it isn't your right to take chances with other peoples' well-being -- if you do it, you should be prepared for the consequences. Such as being forced to pay to replace the property you used without permission.

Elizabeth said...

Revenant, you are operating on illusions of normal life. The city had 8 feet of water in it, in 80 percent of its neighborhoods. No one was just out for a bit and returning. People either evacuated, or were holed up at home, with no lights, water or telephone service, trying to avoid being shot at night by looters or by National Guardsmen looking for same. It would have been easy to tell if someone were there by knocking, yelling, listening for their voices calling for help. You need to move from your comfortable perspective to disaster perspective.

Out of all the boats taken by rescuers during this crisis, just this one guy has protested. Just the one. He's an anomoly, a crank. The rest of the city understands what extreme circumstances required. I guess I keep responding to these comments because I'm absolutely baffled by how uninformed, how divorced from reality, other Americans are when it come to understanding what happened here.

I'm terribly glad that it will be a local judge or jury hearing this case.

Andrew Shimmin said...

Could be worse: they could all be preening, self-righteous, demagogues when it comes to understanding what happened there. So, there's that.

Elizabeth said...

Andrew, preen away, and call me names; that's a very impressive argument! You must be a very smart man.

But I'll continue to provide, as best I can, information and context for the situation here in New Orleans. Highly intelligent people with clear ethics and good intentions can simply lack the frame of reference to comprehend an event of the magnitude of Katrina and the subsequent flooding.

Andrew Shimmin said...

PatCA said...
. . .Anybody seen Lee's doc? He's one of my favorite filmmakers, but I can guess the tired old themes in When the Levees Broke and don't need to spend 4 hours getting hit over the head.

Elizabeth said...
Pat, sure, yeah, that Katrina thing is sooooo yesterday. Yawn. Don't worry your beautiful mind about it.

Information. Context. Layers.

Elizabeth said...

Andrew, what's your point? What do you want out of this exchange? I'm invested in New Orleans, and I'll comment on those terms. What's the point of your ragging on me? I don't deny, nor do I apologize for, commenting on what I think are needlessly dismissive comments on the "tired old themes" Pat complained about. At least I have purpose. What's yours? Just preening?

Andrew Shimmin said...

My point is that you're acting like a jerk. How could that possibly have not been clear?

Elizabeth said...

You've spent a lot of time and $25 words trying to say that. Next time just get to the point. That would then allow you some time to actually come up with something of substance on the topic.

Revenant said...

You need to move from your comfortable perspective to disaster perspective.

Apparently, in your mentality, "disaster perspective" means "you can steal whatever you want". Which makes me glad that I (a) don't live anywhere near you and (b) own a gun.

Out of all the boats taken by rescuers during this crisis, just this one guy has protested. Just the one. He's an anomoly, a crank.

He's in the right, morally and legally. If nobody else in the city gets that, then apparently the popular perception of New Orleans as a city of lawless thugs and looters unworthy of aid is entirely correct. Makes me glad I never sent any money. :)

The rest of the city understands what extreme circumstances required.

But apparently can't stir themselves to replace the guy's boat. Apparently saving 200 lives is only worth a $12,000 expenditure if you can steal the money from some innocent bystander.

I'm terribly glad that it will be a local judge or jury hearing this case.

Yeah, the south has a long history of jury nullification... if not a particularly proud one.

PatCA said...

Hey, Freeman H., Andrew S., nice to read your comments!