"A wise and frugal government which shall restrain men
from injuring one another, which shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government."
(Thomas Jefferson)

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Wesley Pruden: Goodnight, Irene. What a Floozie

This was a great way to start the morning when I found this email in my inbox from Wesley Pruden on Hurricane Irene.  Been waiting to see an article that could be posted about all the hype on the East Coast by the media for a Category I hurricane that was going to be "devastating" -- the "worst ever" to hit New York City and flood the subways for days.  Finally went to the Weather Channel where there was hype but nothing compared to the cable networks who were in their glory entertaining people in the rest of the Country.

If there had not been so much rainfall before the storm hit, the flooding in places like Vermont would have been much less as their saturated ground was going to cause flooding with any large amount of rainfall.

Where was all this concern when the Mississippi River was over its banks earlier this year?  Didn't hear about the world as we know it was about to come to an end.  Seven inches of rain over a period of hours sounds like a lot but we had 10 inches in five hours when we lived in Texas which flooded the streets and the kids took a canoe around the high school.

There were cases where people died that were truly a tragedy but then there were the idiots that didn't listen and went out surfing or jumped in the storm surge.  Then you had other idiot thrill seekers driving around that had a tree drop on their car.  Don't even feel sorry for the people on the barrier islands who refused to leave and decided to ride it out.  Now they are without basic necessities and ferry boats have to be used to resupply them as the roads are washed out like at Cape Hatteras off North Carolina.   Then you have the stupidity of reporters standing out in the center of the storm trying to stand up as things go flying by like metal from a sign.  Someday a reporter is going to killed because of stupidity of not only the reporter but their bosses for ratings.  At least Geraldo wasn't hanging in a tree this time.

A friend of my daughter's who lives in NYC said people were buying up all the butter -- go figure.  Sounds like anything in the dairy case they went after which makes zero sense but Bloomberg whipped them into a panic and frenzy mode.

The worst part of all this hype is the next storm could really pose a problem but with all the hype this time a lot of people are going to ignore the warnings.  When is common sense going to return to the world of broadcast media especially the cable channels?  They are doing the American people a disservice by trying to out hype each other.  Report the news and let us decide instead of being told it is the storm of the century and going to devastate parts of New York City.  When it doesn't happen, residents become complacent for the next storm which could devastate an area.

This article sums it up perfectly and what many of us are hearing from others in places where storms do hit that cause massive damage with little warning like what happened to Joplin, MO, when those tornadoes dropped out the skies and devastated a city.  All parts of the Country can experience bad weather or an earthquake but it is time for the Weather Channel, Cable News, and the alphabet networks to review their coverage and act in a responsible matter to cut the hype the next time a storm hits.
Goodnight, Irene.  What a floozie

By Wesley Pruden 
Nobody cuts Barack Obama any slack, not even a hurricane. The president was ready to try anything to change the miserable trajectory of his luck. The polls were enough to ruin a week with the elites on Martha’s Vineyard. Then, on the southern horizon, a floozie named Irene, considerably bigger than a man’s hand and full of promise, swirled into view. Hope and change looked to be arriving just in time. 
The president hailed his plane and was off to Washington to take charge of the storm. He shucked his coat, threw away his tie, and sat down in his working-man’s shirtsleeves to preside over the White House command center. Irene would give him a chance to show that he’s not the incompetent nerd everyone is beginning to think he is. He would dispatch the cops, the fire trucks, the rescue squads himself. “All indications point to this being a historic hurricane,” he told the nation. He didn’t have to add, “News at 11, with great visuals.” 

Mayor Michael Bloomberg got Bronx cheers with his demand that 375,000 New Yorkers in low-lying areas leave. bloomberg1
He could count on the mainstream media to do the rest, pumping hysteria into the bloodstream of ol’ body politic. Correspondents would take up heroic poses. Dan Rather made his reputation describing a hurricane from the beach, bending horizontally with the wind, and traded a job in Houston for fame and fortune at CBS. Imitators have been trying to follow him in every storm since. One correspondent reported from the surf off the Maryland coast at Ocean City, even swallowing a lot of yellow foam that turned out to be raw sewage. Nobody will get downwind from him for weeks. Opportunity beckoned to all. The Rev. Pat Robertson cried that the storm, following the great Atlantic earthquake of just a few days before, was a sign that we’re “closer to the coming of the Lord.” He urged God to exile Irene to a distant sea. 
The New York Times consulted its usual astrologers and it found one to raise the possibility, sort of, that hurricanes are getting worse, and it could be, it might be, global warming’s fault. But if someone actually read the story under the headline Irene was not so much delivering change as peddling hope. “The short answer from scientists,” the account glumly concluded, “is that they are still trying to figure it out.” 
Alas, by dawn’s early light the president and his connivers in the media had figured it out. The president knew Katrina, Katrina was a distant acquaintance of his, and Irene was no Katrina. Irene was only the little girl who could have been so bad she was horrid, only she wasn’t. Bad luck continues. 
All the president could do on the morning after was to put aside his disappointment and call in someone to share the blame (or assume it all, if he could manage that). Janet Napolitano, the secretary of homeland security and the wicked queen of airports everywhere, piped up with the observation that nobody was yet “out of the woods.” The president agreed there was still wrath to come, when all that rain started tumbling down the creeks and rivers, seeking release in the sea. But the explanations all amounted to thin soup. 
In New York, where Mayor Michael Bloomberg got only Bronx cheers with his demand that 375,000 New Yorkers in low-lying areas leave town, Gotham businessmen counted the cost of the four-day shutdown and came up with a tab in the billions. The mayor had even shut down the subways, so at least he could boast that he prevented muggings, rapes and assaults in the trains during the night. 
A marketing analyst at America’s Research Group, noting that merchants were counting on the weekend’s receipts to account for 10 percent of back-to-school shopping, called the losses “catastrophic.” Hotels and restaurants were counting on the last weekend of August for billions of dollars of revenue. No one had the numbers for how much of that should be counted against the weather, and how much against the various mongers of fear and hysteria. 
Mr. Obama and the mayor and other public officials had a duty to take Irene seriously, and all would have been derelict in duty if they hadn’t. The villains of the piece are first the prediction men, who get easily caught up in the thrill of scaring everybody, and then the television reporters who finally had a story they could understand, since it rains on everybody. But presidents and mayors should remember what happened to the little boy who cried wolf, and make sure that’s really a wolf poised at the edge of the woods. 
Wesley Pruden is editor emeritus of The Washington Times.

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