Friday, December 31, 2004

America Pledges $350 Million For Tsunami Aid

A tenfold increase. Thanks, President Bush. Seriously.

I think it might be a little late, but far better a week late than never.

Happy and healthy 2005, everybody.

posted by Scott | 12/31/2004 | |

The Ideology Of Hateful Greed

Every time I hear a young conservative say that his favorite author is Ayn Rand, I want to slap him upside the head. How could love for a popular author evoke such anger in me? Maybe this will help explain it.

From an op-ed published by The Ayn Rand Institute written by David Holcberg titled "U.S. Should Not Help Tsunami Victims":

As the death toll mounts in the areas hit by Sunday's tsunami in southern Asia, private organizations and individuals are scrambling to send out money and goods to help the victims. Such help may be entirely proper, especially considering that most of those affected by this tragedy are suffering through no fault of their own.

The United States government, however, should not give any money to help the tsunami victims. Why? Because the money is not the government's to give.
Year after year, for decades, the government has forced American taxpayers to provide foreign aid to every type of natural or man-made disaster on the face of the earth: from the Marshall Plan to reconstruct a war-ravaged Europe to the $15 billion recently promised to fight AIDS in Africa to the countless amounts spent to help the victims of earthquakes, fires and floods--from South America to Asia.

Forget my disagreement with the capitalanarchist ideology inherent here. Imagine for one second that the United States had not undertaken the Marshall Plan. Imagine a war-weakened Europe, starving for help, turning to Stalin for survival. Imagine that the US government did not take an active interest in the global AIDS crisis, allowing it to decimate the African continent, leading to God knows what kind of war and terrorism, before bleeding out to the rest of the world in the form of an international refugee flood. Even from the most craven realpolitik perspective, international aid can be viewed as a bribe. Money, food, infrastructure in return for good will and stability.

Holcberg's hatred masquerades itself as libertarianism, but it is clearly nothing of the sort. As Josh Marshall points out, Holcberg writes that "most of those affected by this tragedy are suffering through no fault of their own." Can anyone imagine a human being sitting in front of his television, watching the devastation in the Indian Ocean, thinking that there was a certain number of people who were impacted by the tsunami through some "fault of their own"? That's not libertarianism. That's hateful greed.

Pardon my fury, but how the f@#k can a tsunami be the fault of its victims? Only a slavish Ayn Rand fan could come up with such nonsense.

posted by Scott | 12/31/2004 | |

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

So Much For War, So Little For Peace

In the comments, Sarah asks why the administration is willing to spend so much money to go to war with Iraq, but is being so frugal with money for the international tsunami relief effort. I wish I had a good answer for her.

There was a point at which I believed that even though there were plenty of nefarious reasons for the top figures in the Bush administration to want a war with Iraq, the humanitarian reasons were always there as well. Even though their efforts were misguided and hamfisted, there was still an element of compassion to the whole thing.

That point is by now long gone.

Over at Stephenson Strategies, W. David Stephenson puts a dollar value on the hypocrisy of the Bush administration, pointing out that it's been "$156 billion for Iraq, $35 million for tsunami." (Actually, it's closer to $157 billion, but what's a billion between friends?)

But this isn't just another occasion to beat Bush over the head with his own policy failings. Bush is President for another four years, like it or not, and represents the American people in the world. Stephenson certainly recognizes this, and rightly expresses frustration with the paltry aid package offered up by the administration.

I can't help thinking that whatever we spend on relief after this tragedy will be one of the smartest homeland security defense expenditures possible.
He's exactly right. If only the President and his cabinet were smart enough to figure that out as well.

posted by Scott | 12/29/2004 | |

Tsunami Death Toll Now 77,828

The Red Cross is warning that the death toll could soon top 100,000.

I'm speechless.

posted by Scott | 12/29/2004 | |

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

The Tragedy In Asia - 60,000 Dead And Rising

The number is quite frankly stunning.

When we first heard news about the tsunamis that wreaked havok from the South Pacific to Western Africa, the death toll in the twenty-to-twenty-five thousand range was horrible. As it quickly climbed into the forties, hearts sank even deeper. Now we're learning from the international media that the death toll has crawled past the 60,000 mark.

To put the death toll of 60,000 into perspective, keep in mind that the total body count of 9/11, the Afghan and Iraq Wars (all sides, including civilians), and the second Palestinian Intifada (both Palestinians and Israelis, combatants and non-combatants alike) is right around 45,000.

The Bush administration has been somewhat AWOL on the disaster. When reporters started asking why Bush was riding his bike and clearing brush down in Crawford instead of making a public statement, administration officials used the opportunity to chide President Clinton for making what one referred to as "'we feel your pain'" gestures. That didn't explain the paltry $15 million pledged to the relief effort by the US government, however.

Under the pressure of scrutiny, the administration has commendably adjusted their response to better reflect the urgency of the situation. An aircraft carrier and other US military resources have been deployed to the South Pacific, the $15 million has been increased to $35 million, and the President will be holding a video teleconference with his cabinet from Crawford on the matter. (As you can probably tell, I'm trying not to be too critical here, but I do find it dismaying that the administration can treat this like a virtual non-issue, especially after the great international outpouring of support for America on 9/11.)

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies seems to be the most heavily involved organizations working on the relief effort at the moment, so if you'd like to help by making a donation, here's a link.

International Red Cross/Red Crescent - Donate Now

Aside from that, all we can do is hope and pray for the best.

PS - Unless anything major happens, I'm not going to be posting much until the New Year. Then it's back to normal.

posted by Scott | 12/28/2004 | |

I'm Back

I haven't posted anything since Christmas Eve, and I apologize to my readers who have been wondering when my break would be over. By way of housekeeping, I wanted to mention that my mother had her surgery and came through with flying colors. She even managed to sit down to the dinner table the very night she came home. It was, needless to say, a very good Christmas. Thanks to everyone who wrote and prayed and crossed fingers or even just gave her a moment's thought. Every bit helps and is appreciated.

posted by Scott | 12/28/2004 | |
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