Steyn on Katrina

by Chris Bertram on September 6, 2005

OK, I know that there are people who think that we shouldn’t lower ourselves to engage with the likes of Mark Steyn, but I did post a few days ago about his previously-expressed view that “natural” disasters reveal the shortcomings of the societies and political institutions they happen to. So I’ve been looking out for his reponse to Katrina and in today’s Telegraph he lets us have it. Sure there’s a lot of Bushite spin about how the local politicians are really the ones to blame. But Steyn finally distills the essence of his view:

Welfare culture is bad not just because, as in Europe, it’s bankrupting the state, but because it enfeebles the citizenry, it erodes self-reliance and resourcefulness.

So there we have it. The lavish benefits showered on the poor of Louisiana (how the Dutch, French and Germans must envy them!) have eroded their resourcefulness.

{ 61 comments }

1

Michael Mouse 09.06.05 at 6:20 am

I can’t imagine what the Government could’ve done that would have eroded the self-reliance and resourcefulness of the citizens of New Orleans substantially more than what they actually did. People’s ability to fend for themselves is somewhat curtailed when they are herded together and then held at gunpoint in a confined area with no supplies for days on end.

The argument about Big Government versus Small Government is fairly irrelevant here: the issue is about Staggeringly Incompetent Government.

2

Dylan 09.06.05 at 6:40 am

Uh, this would obviously seem to be more an issue of proportion of income from government assistance than magnitude. Living on nothing more than $14,000 a year of welfare is obviously more “corrupting” than a German getting $18,000 of social benefits on top of his $30,000 salary.

3

Carlos 09.06.05 at 6:43 am

Did you know Mississippi is richer than Sweden?

4

abb1 09.06.05 at 6:46 am

Well, at least some did demonstrate a fair amount of strength, self-reliance and resourcefulnes by doing all that looting and marauding, so, thank goodness, all is not lost yet.

5

Chris Bertram 09.06.05 at 6:53 am

Did you know Mississippi is richer than Sweden?

No, I didn’t, and since knowing is a factive relation, nor did you.

6

Carlos 09.06.05 at 7:04 am

Hm. How does factivity relate to irony and sarcasm? Perhaps I should have put in a link where I tracked down the original source of that bit of misinformation.

7

Darren 09.06.05 at 7:08 am

How would they have fared if they had seceded a long time (1865) ago?

8

RS 09.06.05 at 7:09 am

“People’s ability to fend for themselves is somewhat curtailed when they are herded together and then held at gunpoint in a confined area with no supplies for days on end.”

They actually did the right thing. In an event like this, you round people up, and then rescue them. Unfortunately they only managed the first bit.

9

Chris Bertram 09.06.05 at 7:09 am

My apologies Carlos, it isn’t always possible to hear irony in comments, especially when we have many commenters who are capable of writing what you did non-ironically.

10

Carlos 09.06.05 at 7:14 am

No worries. The dangers of being too deadpan, I guess.

11

Matthew 09.06.05 at 7:49 am

On that story, see something I wrote here.

http://fistfulofeuros.net/archives/000401.php

12

Matthew 09.06.05 at 7:51 am

I don’t think it’s worth engaging Steyn really though, particularly now he’s outed himself as a Creationist.

13

sharon 09.06.05 at 7:51 am

I presume that logically Steyn must also be opposed to inherited wealth. Surely that erodes “self-reliance and resourcefulness” too?

14

Ingrid 09.06.05 at 7:53 am

According to some Dutch water experts who have been on the Dutch radio in the last days, the dykes in the Netherlands have a probability of breaking down once every 10.000 years, whereas the dykes of New Orleans apparently have a probability of 1 out of 30 years.

But of course it’s better for individuals to fix and protect their own dykes, than have Government do it. Amen.

15

bill 09.06.05 at 8:16 am

Change is in the air. Will it be progressive or reactionary?

16

Tom T. 09.06.05 at 8:30 am

Both times when you’ve written about Steyn, in addition to criticizing his conclusions, you’ve cited his analysis that “natural disasters reveal the shortcomings of the societies and political institutions they happen to” in a way that comes across as though you find not only the conclusions but the analysis distasteful. However, the view that there is a link between national culture and natural disasters is not particularly controversial, right? It seems to me that Maria made that same analysis recently, albeit obviously reaching very different conclusions. Other commentators have cited other political/cultural factors that may have contributed to the crisis, such as the alleged institutional hubris of the Corps of Engineers or the supposed endemic corruption of New Orleans city government (NB: I’m not agreeing or disagreeing with any of these items; I’m just making the point that these factors have been raised).

I don’t mean to be snarky, and I’m not trying to spring some logic trap. I’m really just trying to understand whether there is an element of your disagreement with Steyn that I’m missing.

17

Thomas 09.06.05 at 8:39 am

Shldn’t lwr yrslf t ngg Styn? My ndrstndng s tht y’v bn mttng hm–wtht th xprssv skll nd ny f th hmr–fr wk.

Dn’t flttr yrslf bt hvng ny lwr t g.

18

Chris Bertram 09.06.05 at 8:48 am

tom t. Actually, in comments to the previous post I wrote:

bq. #20 … I entirely endorse what Steyn says in the first paragraph I quote. The general principle he enunciates there seems to me to be entirely sound and to be basically the same as Kieran’s point.

Of course I agree that disasters reveal a lot about the societies they happen in. I don’t agree that they reveal the things Steyn thinks they do.

19

harry b 09.06.05 at 9:07 am

Carlos,

pleased to say that I ‘got’ it (so there, Chris!). But I wouldn’t have done yesterday.

20

Dylan 09.06.05 at 9:08 am

Sharon, this right wing crazy is against inherited wealth, having seen my wealthy grandfather ruin pretty much all of his descendants by bailing them out of pretty much everything hard in life. But inheritance problems tend to burn themselves out of their own accord in a generation or two.

21

eudoxis 09.06.05 at 9:22 am

According to some Dutch water experts who have been on the Dutch radio in the last days, the dykes in the Netherlands have a probability of breaking down once every 10.000 years…
This is nonsense. The Dutch have exactly the same problems with the dikes as NO did. The inland body of water accumulates sand from erosion by rainfall, etc.; it is pumped to the outside of the dikes together with water, resulting in higher ground levels outside and subsequent rising water levels during storms. Rising sea levels and increased rainfall also place severe limitations on the future effectiveness of those dikes. The Dutch (I am one) are well aware of the limitations of their delta project and the risk to the people who live in that area.

22

roger 09.06.05 at 10:03 am

Beyond Steyn’s nonsense, the people of New Orleans, like the people in the WTC, did self organize to help each other — it is hard to read any account by the survivors that doesn’t mention this. Unfortunately for all, they were prevented from actually helping each other for real by the government, which — at all levels, state, local, federal — did its best to keep people from helping transport other people out of the city, did its best to guard people under horrendous conditions not only in the Superdome and in the Civic Center, but in the camps people were transported to after evacuation. This account of one man’s escape (http://michaelhoman.blogspot.com/2005/09/
one-of-millions-of-hurricane-katrina.html) is a good probe into what was happening when people were rescued. It isn’t pretty.

23

ingrid 09.06.05 at 10:04 am

Eudoxis,
If you are right, then some official spokespeople for the Dutch watermanagement are lying on the radio. Would be interesting to find out. I’m just reporting what I heard, but if you have evidence that this is wrong, I’d be interested to know more.

It seems not implausible, though, that maintenance and investment in public goods such as dykes is very important to either prevent waterdisasters, or limit the damage. In both cases, a anti-government ideology and believe in people’s own indvidual responsibilities and agency doesn’t help much, I’d think.

24

david g 09.06.05 at 10:09 am

Army Corps of Engineers spokesman denies that any potential funding for dikes/levees was lost to Iraq.

Governing emergency rules give local government the responsibility to declare emergencies and call in aid. FEMA may be badly run, but they have routinely warned NO (Nagin) and all other potential risk area administrators that it would be 72-96 hours after any disaster before they could be on the scene. And feds are anyway prohibited by statute from acting as officers of local law enforcement, so they could never replace regular police in fighting looters, rapists etc.

Nagin failed to use his available resources to evacuate people and now, as Steyn so pithily says, points the finger at others.

The NOPD was (is) notoriously corrupt and inefficient. They took on drunk drivers and other felons because force members had to live in the city and they couldn’t get enough qualified applicants to apply. Not surprising that many of them abandoned their duty.

The frequency of super-class hurricanes that hit shore in the Gulf has been dropping since the 1970s. Whether that trend is changing is nothing anyone can say on the basis of one (or two, if you count Ivan last year) examples.

There are a lot of what we euphemistically call cultural reasons for the size of the tragedy, not necessarily however related to Steyn’s claim that depending on government (i.e. being a welfare recipient) passivizes people. A claim BTW which has nothing whatever to do with the amounts you get, as some seem to think, but with the status of dependent itself.

One reader writes that it’s the government’s responsibility to protect people including against natural disasters. Is that really true? I would have thought that the prime person responsible for protecting me against disasters is me, and if the government can help rather than hinder, wonderful, but given both history and philosophical principle I don’t expect it.

25

eudoxis 09.06.05 at 10:20 am

If you are right, then some official spokespeople for the Dutch watermanagement are lying on the radio.
Perhaps those official spokespeople are just ignorant of such predictions as rising sea levels in the next ten thousand years due to global warming.

26

djw 09.06.05 at 10:25 am

Did all the vowels vote for John Kerry or something?

27

Charlie B. 09.06.05 at 10:34 am

Oh, how disappointing. I thought Chris Bertram at least would steer clear of this awful orgy of self-righteousness – one of the most disgraceful exhibitions by academics I have seen since… (well, since the Israeli universities furore, which wasn’t so long ago)… and all from people who have never managed anything in their lives (and often never even managed their own lives).

As a matter of interest, I thought there was acceptance that the U.S. welfare system to some degree does encourage economic and psychological dependency (no – not that “black people are morally blameworthy”) This was surely likely to have been a factor (complex, interactive, not monocausal) in the way events played out. Or is empirical investigation and disinterested analysis of conduct to be abandoned along with the rest of the baggage of scholarly professionalism?

As it happens I think the general culture of alcohol and drug-induced intoxication (and for individuals all the physical, economic, attitudinal and psychological consequences of addiction and use), lawlessness, and hedonism, that New Orleans sustained — and indeed, in a glamourised version, sold as one of its principal attractions — had much to do with many residents’ responses to worsening conditions, and the collapse of civil order.

I do think it is worthwhile to look at the exent of alcoholism, drug addition and use, and endemic violent crime in New Orleans, as factors that helped destroy the civic trust and competence, in which self-help and external assistance would have been functionally complementary, mutually intelligible and capable of managed integtration.

But it is clear that any such suggestion is heresy. There is only one way in which events are to be permitted to be understood and that is as part of the predetermined critiqueof the war in Iraq. I think those teaching academics participating in this characde are a disgrace.

28

Chris Bertram 09.06.05 at 10:41 am

There is only one way in which events are to be permitted to be understood and that is as part of the predetermined critiqueof the war in Iraq.

Wow! And I didn’t even mention the war… Still, if you say so Charlie.

29

Kevin 09.06.05 at 10:46 am

I vowed never to read another column written by Mark Steyn when he used the attack on the World Trade Centre to take a cheap swipe at the Americans With Disabilities Act; this latest salvo, however, makes that one seem respectful in comparison.

djw, thanks for the laugh. Personally, I like that thomas’ posts now make as much sense visually as they do intellectually.

30

soubzriquet 09.06.05 at 11:21 am

Charlie B.:

In a few posts now you’ve floated ideas about crime rates, addiction, etc., and indeed there is clear correlation with urban poverty. However, you seem to have the causation pretty much backwards.

31

RS 09.06.05 at 11:29 am

“One reader writes that it’s the government’s responsibility to protect people including against natural disasters. Is that really true? I would have thought that the prime person responsible for protecting me against disasters is me…”

Only in America could you say this with a straight face.

32

Charlie B. 09.06.05 at 11:31 am

Sorry Chris. Indeed you did not. I take it back. As perhaps you are aware, I admire what you write, and respect your independence — so what’s an intellectually reputable guy like you doing making cheap points like that? (I don’t know anything about the Steyn guy.)

33

Charlie B. 09.06.05 at 11:40 am

#30: However, you seem to have the causation pretty much backwards.

That’s not how I understand the issue. I know people differ. Like everything, it’s complex. I do not think you will address any of the issues of poverty and crime-ridden poverty (or ending up powerless or a victim) until you get the drugs out.

The direct and indirect effects on the whole population of poor people in New Orleans of widespread drug addiction, use, and illegal trade is devastating. It certainly played an important part in the dynamics of disaster in New Orleans – but most people appear to prefer to ignore this.

34

theorajones 09.06.05 at 11:43 am

As we all know, the levees were not supposed to break. This is because operation “Hans Brinker,” inspired by Dutch flood control practices, had been firmly laid out in FEMA protocol. The mayor was supposed to have the cell phone and home phone numbers of a “Louis B’Doigt,” a New Orleans beat sergeant with enormously fat fingers. Upon learning of levee weakness, Sgt. B’Doigt was to be deployed immediately to the leak.

Unfortunately, the mayor’s managerial incompetence meant no one could find Louis’s cell phone number. And really, no one can be held responsible for what happened next (well, maybe the governor. But certainly not the President, who ran on a platform that consisted of “Only I can keep you safe–vote for Kerry and you will die.”)

35

soubzriquet 09.06.05 at 11:49 am

charlie:

Sure, it’s clear there are things you don’t understand about the issue :)

But seriously, you are talking about *symptoms* of endemic urban poverty. Yes these things are huge problems, but they are symptoms. To make real headway, you have to address the root causes.
The breakdown of civic trust, as you put it, is important and has nothing to do with drugs and alchohol. People don’t trust civil authority when that civil authority has proved to be unworthy of trust over time. Of course this can lead to a vicious cycle, but that is where it starts.

36

theorajones 09.06.05 at 11:59 am

“Army Corps of Engineers spokesman denies that any potential funding for dikes/levees was lost to Iraq.”

So, your suggestion is that the funding for levee maintenance was slashed and levee work was stopped for the first time in 37 years not becuase of Iraq (as the Times-Picayune reported at the time), but stopped for no reason at all?

Christ, that’s even more pathetic.

37

roger 09.06.05 at 12:22 pm

Actually, the state has promised to aid victims of disaster and done so since 1927. This: “One reader writes that it’s the government’s responsibility to protect people including against natural disasters. Is that really true? I would have thought that the prime person responsible for protecting me against disasters is me” ignores history. But one thing was made crystal clear from the response to New Orleans: if the “me” involved is white and upper class, then the government provides plenty of protection. One assumed that the racist structure of unequal distribution of government aid — which Barry chronicled in his book on the 1927 flood — was somewhat impacted by the civil rights movement. Alas, that good and liberal vision of American progress has been dashed.
There is a report from the representative of the Green party in Lousiana, Malik Rahim, about what the state did do during the flood. What they did do is block self-aid, while at the same time vanishing as a force of security. It was a double whammy: since the only people who get real policing — the governing class — had evacuated, the policing structure concentrated on collecting people and making sure they starved while waiting to be picked up and dumped in a camp, where they could be assaulted. Meanwhile, they were allowing gangbangers to do what they wanted in the collection points and around town.

There you go: the U.S. in action. As Lou Reed put it in a song long ago,
“Give your tired your poor I’ll piss on ’em/
That’s what the Statue of Bigotry says/
Your poor huddled masses, let’s club ’em to death/
and get it over with and just dump ’em on the boulevard.”
A little prophecy there.

38

Troll 09.06.05 at 12:27 pm

djw, n, tht’s Chrs’s rspns t my tllng th trth bt hm. Tht s, h’s spnt th lst wk ctng s f Mrk Styn’s rspns t trgdy s th pprprt n, nd nw wnts t prtnd tht h’s smhw bttr thn Styn. H sn’t, f crs, nd tht shldn’t nd t b sd. nd stnd by my cntntn tht Styn s bttr wrtr thn Chrs–n ffns ntndd n tht cnt, bt thr’s rsn Chrs wrts fr fr nd Styn ds nt.

39

Luc 09.06.05 at 12:43 pm

About those Dutch dykes …

There is a law called “de wet op de waterkering” (“the law concerning the dykes” ??)

It states which waterlevels should be protected against. Those levels should be such that the odds that those waterlevels are exceeded are x, where x is determined by the consequences of a breach. For rivers that gives a once in 1250 years odd, and for the Dutch shoreline that protects the cities those odds are once in 10.000 years.

Neither the Dutch experts nor the spokespeople are ignorant, but as always take their words in the appropriate context. (And don’t rely on what I just wrote, since I haven’t read that law either.)

Link (Dutch)

A consequence of specifying it this way is that if the circumstances change, whether it is because of global warming or something more mundane, the law doesn’t need to change, but the dykes need to.

40

Luc 09.06.05 at 1:17 pm

A much better link in english.

Changing estuaries, changing views

“In this study we review the Dutch experience and, in light of the lessons learned, offer general advice about how to deal with delta regions worldwide.”

“Safety norms for protection against flooding in The Netherlands are based on three main groups of arguments. Firstly, the probability of a certain water level being reached. Secondly, the construction and maintenance of dykes and dams and thirdly, the expected economic damage in case of a flood. In the heavily populated centres, the norm of once in 10,000 years is used. In regions with less expected damage, this norm is 1:4000, 1:2500 or even 1:1250. This means that safety diminishes whenever investments are made in the lands protected by dykes. The expected sea level is recalculated regularly, and once every five years, by law, an evaluation of the condition of the dykes and sluices is made. If necessary, the constructions are changed or repaired. However, until now there has been no system of recalculating the potential economic damage.”

41

dsquared 09.06.05 at 2:01 pm

call me Mickey Meteorologist but I suspect that Dutch flood management practices might be radically different if the North Sea were frequently subject to hurricanes.

42

Demosthenes 09.06.05 at 3:15 pm

You know, I remember being absolutely shocked when I heard about those Japanese hostages being attacked and blamed for being kidnapped- that they were somehow responsible for what happened to them. When it happened, though, I chalked it up to the oddities of Japanese culture.

Then I read this Steyn piece.

That spin-spouting idiots like Steyn would rather blame Democrats at least makes sense; his career depends on it. That he’d blame the victims, and that people would go along with it and prattle on about “cultures of dependency” in the ONE situation where everybody agrees government is necessary (the security of the people) is frightening.

Might as well have written “let them die, and decrease the surplus population” and been done with it.

43

Russkie 09.06.05 at 4:54 pm

> I know that there are people who think that we
> shouldn’t lower ourselves to engage with the likes
> of Mark Steyn,

I hope that the same people think you shouldn’t lower yourselves to linking the likes of Daily Kos…

44

Kevin 09.06.05 at 5:05 pm

russkie, I’ll type slowly so that you can understand:

Mark Steyn is a journalist, and is paid for his writing and opinions.
Daily Kos is a website with many users, none of whom are paid for their writings and opinions; at least not on that website.

I could be wrong, but perhaps someone who actually makes a living peddling his opinions and theories should maybe be held to a higher standard of accountability than a website with thousands of mostly anonymous users.

Also, it’s a bad idea to put a fork in the toaster. You’re welcome.

45

Tim 09.06.05 at 5:16 pm

Anyone willing to make the opposite argument (to Steyn’s) explicit? I.e., that a shameful lack of social benefits in the US has created a culture of rugged individualism, which lead directly to looting and shooting on the part of the Hobbesian residents of Louisiana.

souzbriquet hinted at this in #35, by the bye.

It may be a rascal’s argument; I’m inclined to think with Michael Mouse that big v. small government ain’t the issue.

46

Scott Lemieux 09.06.05 at 5:20 pm

“djw, n, tht’s Chrs’s rspns t my tllng th trth bt hm. Tht s, h’s spnt th lst wk ctng s f Mrk Styn’s rspns t trgdy s th pprprt n, nd nw wnts t prtnd tht h’s smhw bttr thn Styn. H sn’t, f crs, nd tht shldn’t nd t b sd. nd stnd by my cntntn tht Styn s bttr wrtr thn Chrs—n ffns ntndd n tht cnt, bt thr’s rsn Chrs wrts fr fr nd Styn ds nt.”

Hey, you have to admit–it holds up better than his argument that flooding prevented evacuation by bus *before* the hurricane when it didn’t even prevent it after the hurricane…

47

soubzriquet 09.06.05 at 5:33 pm

Tim:

I’d also be inclined to think that it isn’t as simple as big v. small governement (for many reasons)

I’ll note however,reducing the discussion to `social benefits’ is an oversimplification. There has been in particular an urban culture created in the US which, among other things, expresses societal values (variously, across the socio-economic spectrum). I believe you could argue quite convincingly that this was a factor in how the disaster has played out, and particularly in the *speed* at which security devolved.

One would have to step carefully to achieve meaningful dialogue about it though. Avoiding both the sort of blame-the-victim drivel that charlie seems to be veering toward, and simplistic romantasicm of the urban poor would be difficult.

48

Chris Bertram 09.06.05 at 5:34 pm

And I put such an argument where exactly Scott?

49

soubzriquet 09.06.05 at 5:37 pm

tim: one further comment. Even from the more questionably objective media sources, there seems no evidence that `Hobbesian’ is an accurate portrayal of the vast majority of residents…..

50

djw 09.06.05 at 7:19 pm

I imagine Scott’s referring to a previous argument from Thomas. Sounds like something he’d say.

51

Luc 09.06.05 at 7:48 pm

call me Mickey Meteorologist but I suspect that Dutch flood management practices might be radically different if the North Sea were frequently subject to hurricanes.

I doubt that. Though hurricanes are a lot stronger than North Sea storms, the danger to the levees is coming from the water, not from the direct impact of the wind. So there isn’t that much difference. And the more “modern” approaches of using wetlands etc. are also relevant in both areas. But then I ain’t no expert.

But I posted those comments because I thought the discussion about the 10.000 years number veered a bit of course. In comment #21 it was called “nonsense”, and I thought that a bit, well, wrong.

52

eudoxis 09.07.05 at 12:23 am

luc, your posts were helpful. As it is, the dikes are expected to be at the level of security so they can presently withstand a 1×10^-4 probability/year storm. But the dikes are not currently at this level and won’t be for many years to come and those years will be delayed further by inland water erosion, heavy rainfall, rising sea levels, rising costs, and an increase in European wind storm intensities.

With security levels dwindling, Nederland has now also joined with neighboring countries to put a disaster relief and evacuation plan in place.

53

MFB 09.07.05 at 2:34 am

I wonder whether New Orleans has anything to learn from the Dutch response after the dykes collapsed in, when was it, 1953? I presume a lot of towns were flooded (thousands drowned, as I recall). It seems surprising that nobody has mentioned this — I wonder if U.S. intellectual isolationism has anything to do with it?

54

James Wimberley 09.07.05 at 5:50 am

A website in English on the Dutch Delta plan.
A photo of one of the seventeen sluice gates in the Haringvliet storm barrier (credit to a pupil of Highdown School, Reading, England). Look at the street lamps and railings to get an idea of the scale.
Of course New Orleans faces a different hydrology. But this is what a flood prevention strategy looks like in the hands of a perfectly serious government.

55

Charlie B. 09.07.05 at 8:32 am

In today’s Times there is a telling little story:

An official told of a message found in a wine bottle drifting in floodwaters: ‘To whom it may concern: Please send with immediately, (one) ice cold chest of Coors Light. I’m out at this time. Down to wine. Some shrimp and oysters would be appreciated. Thank you,” said the note, which gave an address. The patrol found the author sitting on his front porch. Between sips of wine, he told them he was staying. The official who found the note intends to fame it because it is “pure New Orleans.”

Hilarious! Do I really need to say anything about alcohol and judgement, and just how continuously this addled sot might have been drunk before Katrina hit. But I blame the President – this irresponsible sponge clearly is a victim, and his conduct is outside his own control.

56

Uncle Kvetch 09.07.05 at 8:38 am

Wow, I’d never thought of it that way, Charlie. Had that guy not been drunk on his porch before the hurricane, those 15-20,000 people at the Convention Center wouldn’t have had been left to rot for 4 days without food, water, toilets, electricity, and medical care.

Or something.

57

Charlie B. 09.07.05 at 8:53 am

It was a story about one person, and about what it was about. But then, I just don’t buy that sociological method where everything can be made into evidence for anything you like. Note – the same reporters who brought us this heartwarming story viewed other porches, and prospective relaxation on them, somewhat differently. (uncle kvetch – have you been drinking?)

58

Uncle Kvetch 09.07.05 at 9:20 am

It was a story about one person, and about what it was about.

Well, for you it was clearly about exonerating George W. Bush, or you wouldn’t have thrown in that snarky “But I blame the President,” now would you?

Good luck carrying that water and moving those goalposts, Charlie. You’re gonna need it.

59

Charlie B. 09.07.05 at 9:46 am

The shot was intended to be of the same order as Chris’s, which began the whole thread.

The sarcasm was directed at arguments employing theories of causation in which all unwelcome events or characteristics are attributed to the President, irrespective of his direct involvement or political responsibility (and I am not saying that none are, or that he has no involvement or responsibility); or to (white) society in general, of which Mr Bush is the head, symbol or upholder. It did not imply my views on the responsibility of anyone for specific events not mentioned. So snide, yes. Exonnerating, no.

60

engels 09.07.05 at 10:34 am

The sarcasm was directed at arguments employing theories of causation in which all unwelcome events or characteristics are attributed to the President

And these “theories of causation” have been advanced by whom?

61

Tim 09.07.05 at 12:09 pm

Re: #49 (re my #45)

Admitted — they’re both rascal’s arguments. The idea of making the one argument shows how silly the other is, though, don’t you think?

Or do you think we could find someone to shout it loud enough to get on TV with it?

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