Saturday, October 27, 2007

California Wildfires.

The most current tragedy to hit the American media is the collection of wildfires burning out of control in Southern California. Reportedly 2300 structures have already been destroyed. In addition, the disaster has claimed 11 lives. I have heard estimates of amounts exceeding $1 billion in damages. If you do the math, it's not difficult to figure out that these were some very expensive houses burning down. Perhaps that's why so much media attention seems to be focused on the event.

I can't help but compare this to the federal response in the Katrina disaster. Bush seems to be falling all over himself to reassure the uber-rich denizens of the red counties of Southern Cal. In fact I have no doubt that the president will promptly deliver the relief he has promised to his political constituents. I also expect the insurance companies to make every effort to protect the interests of their wealthiest clients, and in turn pass the cost on to the masses. What I'm not holding my breath for is calls from the wing-nuts of AM radio to question the wisdom of building elaborate mansions in such a historically disastrous area. Just five years ago the predictable area wildfires were responsible for $2 billion in damages and 18 deaths. No one blamed the victims. Three years later, legions of kool-aid drinkers excused FEMA, Bush and his cronies when they failed to help the poor folks of New Orleans. They pointed out that the unfortunates deserved what they got for not having the wherewithal to evacuate. They criticized the intention to rebuild a city that is notorious for its liberal culture. Perhaps we should let them off the hook for the hypocrisy they are displaying now. After all, can we really expect consistency and rationality from that camp?

No one in the mainstream media is likely to bring up the fact that over-development and uncontrolled construction keeps Southern California in an annual cycle of peril. This is one of the few remaining strengths in the American manufacturing sector- new housing starts. How dare anyone stand in the way of the vicissitudes of the "free market"? Shame on anybody that blames human economic initiative for the destruction brought about by "acts of God". It's un-American not to have sympathy for the highest financial classes of our nation. If we hold them to account for anything, it is surely the result of petty "class envy". So let's all agree that if anyone deserves help from the federal government- it's the super-rich minority. And let's obfuscate the true causes of the wildfires, in the hope that they can be used to some obscure political advantage.

Speculation on right wing radio revolves around the sources of the fires. Firefighters and law enforcement investigators believe that some of the blazes were started by arsonists. What reasons people could have for provoking these conflagrations remains unclear. But the most nutty of conservatives have identified the usual suspects- "terrorists". This article is typical. Reportedly (in 2003) some Arab detainee spoke of plans to set off a series of forest fires in the area. Statements by certain fire-fighting personnel have "fueled the fire" (so to speak). It's been said that whoever started the blazes "knew what they were doing", as the initial flames traveled three miles in less than twenty minutes. No doubt it's the insidious Islamic fundamentalists who alone would have such knowledge of arson strategy. After all, they have a wealth of experience setting fires in the vast forestlands of the Middle East.

What better use could this tragedy present than an opportunity for ratcheting up the suspicions and paranoia of the heartland? Obviously the shadowy enemies have their hands in all sorts of mayhem. After all- wasn't it those sophisticated Islamicists that spread terror throughout the nation by sending anthrax to the mainstream media and Democratic lawmakers in the wake of 9-11? (No, my mistake... it actually turned out to be radical right wing Americans). Yet these "conservatives" have seemed to take a page out of the play-book of the conspiracy nuts- a group that they have never shrunk away from accusing of rampant idiocy when they didn't like the selection of targets. Of course they will be empowered to further their crusade with irresponsible accusations. Other suspects considered include environmentalists and Mexican "illegals" (notice any pattern here?). No matter who turns up to accept the blame, pundits like Boortz and Savage will claim that the American government would never reveal plots that could endanger "homeland security". And so the circle is completed, and the truth obscured.

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Blogger Ryan said...

an interesting footnote in case you hadn't caught it


6:51 PM  
Blogger Merge Divide said...

Thanks for the link, Ryan.

So the dog-and-pony show continues, eh?

2:32 AM  
Blogger Rob Park said...

Are the right-wing, conservative, talking heads to blame for there idiotic comments or are the empty-headed listeners to shows more at fault for both the content of our news and for electing these official in the first place?

I believe "news" is the product of our hegemony. Rush, Hannity and those lot are figure-heads of our society. The average American is actually much dumber are they are to blame.

7:11 PM  
Blogger Merge Divide said...

I suppose there's enough blame to go around.

1:23 AM  

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