Haiti, rightwing paradise

aka, the Tea-bagger quake.

The Fox “news” coverage of Haiti has been very informative so far. Several blogs have noted that while all the other news outlets on earth have been flooding the airwaves, cable broadcasts and “inter-tubes” with “all Haiti all the time” over the last couple of days, Fox has had a very different track. As mediamatters notes:

On January 13, Fox News’ three top-rated programs for 2009 — The O’Reilly Factor, Hannity, and Glenn Beck — devoted a combined total of less than 7 minutes of coverage to the earthquake in Haiti, instead choosing to air such things as Beck’s hour-long interview with Sarah Palin, Bill O’Reilly’s discussion of Comedy Central host Jon Stewart, and Sean Hannity’s advocacy for Massachusetts candidate Scott Brown’s Senate campaign. By contrast, the content of MSNBC’s three top-rated shows underscored the significance of the Haiti disaster; Countdown, The Rachel Maddow Show, and Hardball devoted a total of more than two hours to the earthquake.

Personally I think they just needed the right angle. Much of the news coverage by other sources has been the same mindless “a tragedy! oh the humanity!” over and over, and certainly other things have happened in the world that maybe need a bit of news coverage, but still 7 minutes total?

Soon they will start blaming Obama for not reacting fast enough after the quake. Kinda like they didn’t report it for a few days. They don’t have irony in the no spin zone.

But they are starting to report.

Today I stopped to fill up the car on the way home and forgetting the station down the road has a Fox propaganda contract whereby they show the “news” station while I pay them money, I glanced at the screen while I waited. The reporter spit out something very close to this: “The scene is horrific! Thousands of people have gathered at the one time sight of the Haitian government thinking that surely if they could find relief this would be the place, but there is no relief coming, because there is no government. There is no infrastructure left at all.”

Isn’t that a cardinal goal of the rightwing movement in this country? Shrink the government till you can strangle it in the bath tub? Who needs infrastructure, the market will provide? Cut taxes and keep the government out of my life (but they can stay in Dave and Ted’s lives please if you could cause I don’t want them to get married, thanks) and everyone else needs personal responsibility!

Sounds like a major quake did to Haiti what the right has been trying to do to America since they started. If they can just destroy the government and the social contract, we can be just like Haiti…

I went yesterday to help build emergency packages to be shipped to Haiti by the Methodist church. They sent towels, soap, water, toothpaste, nail clippers, basic first aid, and so on. Basically everything they had in the warehouse that could be put into a very small packet to hand out. Except they made sure everyone knew not to include items that could be easily used as weapons. Metal nail files, combs with sharp handles, things like that. They are afraid that as a lack of law and order and regulation combines with lack of food and water, such things would just add to the problems.

I look at that and wonder about the inability to buy bullets over the last year. In many cases you simply couldn’t buy ammunition because the manufacturers couldn’t keep up with the demand. I remember an interview with a militia type who explained her rabid pro gun stand pretty simply. “When you have a problem who do you call? The police! Why? Because they are armed! Cut out the middle man!”

I would argue that the reason to call the police would be to have an unaligned third party that represented the rule of law to help mediate a bad situation, and that if they needed to draw weapons, they have already failed. I would also point out that sometimes you call a lawyer and go to see a judge. This is not because they have guns, but because they too represent the physical manifestation of the social contract, and an unaligned third party to referee a dispute.

Clearly the tea-baggers don’t want this. They want to do away with such government interference and let the “violent brutish and short” way of life that John Locke described as the human world pre-social contract reign. That is why they want to be armed for when it happens. Because might makes right after all.

So it occurs to me that Haiti is currently a tea-bagger paradise. It is what they want America to look like after all.

They just haven’t yet worked out where their own stance leads.

  1. #1 by Richard Warnick on January 15, 2010 - 3:12 pm

    I’ll never forget 2005 when Geraldo Rivera was in New Orleans, holding up babies for the camera to show how malnourished they were. But the Haitian earthquake is too serious for the likes of Geraldo.

    It’s strange to see Anderson Cooper, Brian Williams etc. apparently afraid to leave the airport. The one-runway operation was total chaos until the U.S. Air Force took control.

    With the seaport unusable and the airport at capacity, not to mention the inadequate road network, the only hope for getting help to survivors in time is by using helicopters.

    The USS Carl Vinson arrives today with 19 helicopters. Early next week, the USS Bataan and support ships will be there with Marines, more helicopters and heavy equipment.

    Eventually we’ll have around 10,000 Army and Marines in Haiti. Who knows how, unless we’re not going to do the Afghan “surge.”

  2. #2 by Shane on January 15, 2010 - 3:27 pm

    I have a hard time feeling bad about no surge if instead we are doing something actually worth doing…

    Tells you all you need to know about certain people that we are wasting time in Haiti (in their opinion) saving lives but killing innocent people is something they support. Party of life and all that.

  3. #3 by Richard Warnick on January 15, 2010 - 3:35 pm

    Of course, counterinsurgency in Afghanistan is a fool’s errand unless you can send a half million soldiers there, which we cannot.

    It’s been pointed out that there are two important things the Obama administration can do right now to help Haiti:

    (1) Grant “Temporary Protected Status” to undocumented Haitians in the U.S. (the government has already stopped deportation proceedings for Haitians).

    (2) Support the cancellation of Haiti’s debts to the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

    Even though nobody in the media has mentioned this, I think we are going to have to prepare for an influx of Haitian refugees to the USA.

  4. #4 by Becky Stauffer on January 15, 2010 - 3:36 pm

    I try to imagine people without food or water for three days now. Not mention almost no medical care. How desperate must they be getting by now? No, I can’t even imagine what it must be like.

    I’m glad our country is using its power and resources to get aid to these people as quickly as possible. I’m glad my taxes are being spent in this way. The war can wait.

  5. #5 by Richard Warnick on January 15, 2010 - 8:30 pm

    Heard tonight on the news that temporary protected status has been granted to all Haitians in the USA.

  6. #6 by cav on January 18, 2010 - 8:36 am

    MLK: I am in Birmingham because injustice is here. Just as the prophets of the eighth century B.C. left their villages and carried their “thus saith the Lord” far beyond the boundaries of their home towns, and just as the Apostle Paul left his village of Tarsus and carried the gospel of Jesus Christ to the far corners of the Greco-Roman world, so am I compelled to carry the gospel of freedom beyond my own home town. Like Paul, I must constantly respond to the Macedonian call for aid.

    Moreover, I am cognizant of the interrelatedness of all communities and states. I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny.”

    Today there most certainly would have bee mention of Haiti, Afghanistan, Honduras and well, so many others.

  7. #7 by Dwight Sheldon Adams on January 20, 2010 - 2:17 pm


    Society is large enough and, indeed, grand enough to require a sophisticated means of organizing it–or, simply, of codifying the organizational ideals which spring up in the social conscience. What you refer to as “the physical manifestation of the social contract,” I have called “the formal representation of social organization.” Each perspective represents one side of what formal governance actually is in a democratic society; we have chosen to be unified in the way we are, and agree to the dictates of a social contract as such, but we also must be unified as we are–it’s a part of our society’s genetic makeup. Dissembling the social organization is the sacrifice of the contract. Death to the social organism is the sacrifice of the formal representation. I’m going to spend some time looking into how our two ways of speaking the same idea describe different aspects of social union from different perspectives, fulfilling different, but equally necessary and evident, needs. Thanks for the inspiration.

    On a side note, while I feel that you have strawman-ed the poor Repubs to death, there is some truth in your assessment of the “government can’t do anything right–except military” argument. Sometimes they seem so myopic that they can’t see their own backsides–or maybe they’re just fat, glutted with all the social benefits they take for granted.

    I have to say that I expected something different from your post. I thought the “rightwing paradise” bit was in regards to Rush’s and others’ comments–another glowing opportunity to shoot the President in the foot while he stands at attention to people’s needs.


    Your attitude is one of my favorite parts about being associated with liberals. We recognize that the willful surrender of taxes and the desire to improve the use of those taxes constitutes charity; that by having a charitable and grateful attitude and by willfully giving your taxes, you are transforming a mechanism of government into a charitable act of generosity and individual sacrifice for the social good. You’ve reminded me today that a society full of people which possess charitable attitudes can be charitable as a whole; that compulsory taxation can become voluntary by the virtue of a voluntary attitude; that governments may provide the institutional groundwork for charity, but it becomes the willingness of the people to gilds that groundwork that makes it beautiful. Thanks for that.


    Gosh, you guys are gonna make me tear up, with all of your social responsibility talk! Thanks for giving me a good end to a good day of posting and a lazy day at work. I’m gonna get something to eat.

    Thanks, all,
    Dwight Sheldon Adams

  8. #8 by shane on January 20, 2010 - 2:47 pm

    On a side note, while I feel that you have strawman-ed the poor Repubs to death, there is some truth in your assessment of the “government can’t do anything right–except military” argument. Sometimes they seem so myopic that they can’t see their own backsides–or maybe they’re just fat, glutted with all the social benefits they take for granted.

    One of the inherent problems of discussing the positions of the political right is the “self strawman-ing” of the extremists in the group. All too often the stand taken by the average Joe in the trenches is a strawman of the position held by the actual party. If the original stand is to limit government, I see that as a good thing. But that clearly isn’t the real position, because the same people who seem to support “limited” government also want no limits on the things they want the government for. They create a strawman of their own position, teach it to the party members, and the party members rabidly shred any politicians not toeing the line.

    Which in time makes the strawman the official position….

    I look forward to the clarification on the difference between “the physical manifestation of the social contract,” and “the formal representation of social organization.”

  9. #9 by Dwight Sheldon Adams on January 20, 2010 - 2:59 pm

    the same people who seem to support “limited” government also want no limits on the things they want the government for.

    Yeesh! If I had a nickel for every time I’ve pointed this out! Don’t go to conservative rallies in SLC, or you’ll be wishing for a cartful of nickels, too.

  10. #10 by Richard Warnick on January 20, 2010 - 3:02 pm

    Government can’t do anything right–except military?

    People who have served in the military could tell you that our armed forces screw up plenty. And nobody wants to take responsibility for mistakes either, it’s bad for your career. Result– lots of cover-ups.

  11. #11 by shane on January 20, 2010 - 3:15 pm

    Dwight Sheldon Adams :
    Yeesh! If I had a nickel for every time I’ve pointed this out! Don’t go to conservative rallies in SLC, or you’ll be wishing for a cartful of nickels, too.

    Too late….

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