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American Venice

OK, if you want to know the difference between the two parties, how about this. If, when Bruce Babbitt talks about rebuilding New Orleans as an American Venice, you feel your breath catch a little, and your eyes get dreamy, and you imagine what that could look like, well, you’re a Democrat. If, on the other hand, your first reaction is that making an American Venice is a waste of taxpayers’ money on lazy and foolish goldbrickers, well, you’re a Republican.

Disclaimer #1: I understand that not everybody identifies with one party or the other. My point is that the two parties correspond to totally different mindsets, and lots of people who identify themselves as, say, Libertarians, or Greens, or Independents for perfectly viable reasons actually share the mindset of one party or the other, however they vote. Lots of people have totally different reactions, too, and that’s fine. People are different, one to another, and that’s what makes the world interesting and fun. But if somebody tells you that there is no difference between Republicans and Democrats, remember the American Venice that could have been.

Disclaimer #2: I have no idea whether Mr. Babbitt’s actual plan is a good one or a bad one. I am no expert on, well, anything at all. My opinion is that Mr. Babbitt knows an awful lot about (a) water, (2) politics, and (iii) the environment. But I’m not endorsing his plan, I’m just talking about the vision thing, and how it works. For all that I’ve cussed out Mr. Babbitt in the past, and for all that he ran commercials saying you should vote for him even though he’s a Democrat, he is a Democrat, where it counts.

Disclaimer #3: You know, when it comes down to it, there’s some guy with a house that just got a bit of flood damage, and maybe two or three thousand bucks will fix it, and his neighborhood got about the same amount of damage, and the corner place where he gets his ben-yays could easily be up and running in three months. This guy could get his life back. And the best and most sensible plan for rebuilding New Orleans—any reasonable plan, not just the American Venice plan—is going to involve knocking his house down and getting rid of his neighborhood. The odds are that this guy, whoever he is, is rich, moderately affluent, and a voter. In a neighborhood with %70 turnout, likely enough. Who is going to tell him that his neighborhood has got to go? That the storm spared it, but the reconstruction won’t? Which elected officials are going to fall on that sword? No, I predict (sadly) that his neighborhood is going to be left alone, and the whole thing will be done piecemeal like that, a neighborhood here and there, and there will be no actual plan, and then we’ll do it all again in twenty-five years. And, you know, that’s OK, too; we can be an awfully good country even if we miss opportunities, and blunder around, and screw up here and there. And I really don’t want to knock that guy’s house down. I understand his outrage, and I think it’s justified, even if it’s short-sighted.

Disclaimer #4: You know, it’s a blog.

chazak, chazak, v’nitchazek,


so casual so easy he said coastal maps drawn from consensus estimates show that virtually all of the delta lands ... will be submerged by the end of this century no climate no warming just consensus estimates what a smart cookie he is

I wonder if there's also a party-mindset difference in reactions to the suggestion that Congress should decide what happens to New Orleans....

But mostly I'm posting to say that I'm now thinking of adding "Disclaimer #4: You know, it’s a blog" to the end of everything I post. Best disclaimer ever.

it struck us last night that combining the question of the delta being underwater with the hazmat cleanup may make this the weirdest and most dissatisfying disaster recovery in the country's history. people who are waiting to go back may find themselves in limbo for a decade, if they so desire.

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