Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Fighting Words

***WARNING: The following is pure rant. I woke up in a bad mood and then read this editorial online. I didn’t like it.***

The Pittsburgh-Tribune Review pens an editorial:
The big stupid
While the title is meant to be a play on the phrase “the Big Easy,” it is more accurately a description the intellectual worth of the article that is to follow.

The editorial fails in its opening sentence:
Madness oftentimes is defined as doing the same thing but expecting a different result.
First, this “definition” for madness (usually insanity) is used too often. It is a cliché, and not a very good one. Second, I do not agree that it is an accurate description of madness or insanity. Consider another frequently used phrase: “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” In the battle of clichés, we see that “doing the same thing but expecting a different result” can have both negative and positive meanings.

Obviously, in this case, the writer uses the cliché in its negative sense. What he or she is criticizing is illuminated in the second sentence:
Such is witnessed today in New Orleans where some residents are rebuilding in the worst low-lying areas.
It is madness to rebuild Lakeview. It is madness to rebuild Broadmoor. It is madness to rebuild the 9th Ward. It is madness to rebuild Mid-City. It is madness to rebuild Gentilly. It is madness to rebuild New Orleans East. These are the implications of the editorial’s first two sentences.

The writer continues his observations on madness:
Leading the lunacy is Mayor Ray Nagin. The Washington Post reports he is allowing evacuees to rebuild as they please -- and without raising their homes as required to meet new flood guidelines.
Nagin leading? What lunacy! As far as “allowing evacuees to rebuild as they please,” I’d like to see the government stop anyone from rebuilding “as they please.” The people rebuilding know if they do not follow federal guidelines, they don’t get federal aid, including Road Home money. If you had more than 50 percent damage to your house, you must rebuild no lower than the base flood elevation and be at least three feet above the ground. Nagin can not “allow” people to ignore federal rebuilding guidelines *and* receive federal funds.

The big stupid continues:
This, after experts repeatedly have warned that broad segments of flood-prone neighborhoods should be abandoned.
Experts have also said that flood-prone neighborhoods could be protected by properly built and maintained levees.

More big stupid:
Why should homeowners care when they're receiving billions of dollars in federal aid -- even if they skirt the government's own flood guidelines?
As of January 8, 2007, 118 homeowners in the state of Louisiana have received federal rebuilding money *not due to them through the National Flood Insurance Program.* Remember, those with flood insurance paid dues.

With an average benefit calculated at $78,820.37, that comes to $9,300,803.66 in federal aid sent to homeowners to be used to rebuild. Since that covers the entire state, there is no guarantee that all of that federal aid went to New Orleans homeowners. Therefore, it is not correct to say that New Orleans homeowners are “receiving billions of dollars in federal aid” nor is it fair to conclude that receiving any aid would cause homeowners to not care how they rebuild. This is our home and the lives of our people. We want things done right.

The big stupid pre-dates Katrina:
That's because tough decisions are an anomaly in the Big Easy, as evidenced in the days before Hurricane Katrina. And as more houses go up in the wrong areas, it will be even more difficult to lead residents to higher land.
I assume from the last line that this is a reference to the evacuation. The idea that the evacuation was a failure is one of the greatest myths of Katrina. The true failure was the levees. If the levees had held, the people who stayed behind in New Orleans would have lived.

We are the big stupid because we are the big risky:
Reports due this spring from the Army Corps of Engineers on which city neighborhoods are the riskiest -- and offering homeowners commonsense incentives to build elsewhere -- could help. But remember, this is New Orleans.
Yes, remember. This is New Orleans. And remember that how “risky” a neighborhood is relies on the strength of the levees that protect it. The USACE is responsible for that, too. If they do the job that many engineers think they can do, then we won’t need “commonsense incentives to build elsewhere.”

We should absolve America from our big stupid:
If dim-witted evacuees are determined to rebuild in the worst possible areas, they should sign a waiver relinquishing any claim to future aid if their homes float down the river in the next 30 years.
I certainly hope Pittsburgh isn’t in a flood zone or protected by levees. If so, I fully expect the author of this editorial to sign a waiver relinquishing any claim to future aid if his or her home floats down the river in the next 30 years. But that won’t happen, right? The levees and dams will hold, right?

Not only are we the big stupid, we are the “apogee of stupidity”:
Paying these imbeciles again, after they rebuild in the wrong areas, would be the apogee of stupidity.
At first, I thought the title was a pun. Now I see that it is irony.


Anonymous said...

Some additional information. Areas of downtown Pittsburgh also flooded following the passing of Ivan in September 1996. Reference here for photos -


Following the flood of 1936 multiple flood control projects were built by our friends the Army Corps of Engineers. See article for results of their work the past 70 years. Let's see, Betsy was 40 years ago, maybe in 30 years we'll have such positive results too.


ashley said...


I trust you will write a "letter to the editor" there, and set them straight. I started to about 3 times, and decided that it would be best left to those with larger, less profane vocabularies.


mominem said...

I wonder what they think of California?

Patrick Armstrong said...

"I certainly hope Pittsburgh isn't in a flood zone or protected by levees." That is one of the greatest hyperlinks evar.

Donnie McDaniel said...

How the hell am I supposed to respond to this and not drop the F-Bomb like crazy?????? Gotta drink a beer and think this one over. I know I will fall into a rant if I even attempt it!

Anonymous said...

Correcting Ivan information above - it should be September 2004, not 1996. Don't know how that short cicuit happened.

Mark said...

The editors deserve some emails

Frank L. Craig, Editor

Robert Fryer, Managing Editor

TravelingMermaid said...

I hate to be less than a southern lady but what a bunch of assholes. Emailing now. GRRRRR....

bayoustjohndavid said...

What do you expect from a Richard Mellon Scaife (sp?) owned paper?
Funny that right wing rag doesn't say anything about the billions going to rebuild the Miss. gulf coast which the federal government has no responsibilty for and which contributes nothing to the economy of the rest of the country.

Anonymous said...

Just for fun, Mr. Clio led me to this . Interesting. Hope Pittsburgh doesn't flood again. Nice work.