December 29, 2004

Over 80,000 Dead

That figure from this BoingBoing post about online relief efforts. Eighty thousand people. That we know of. That's 40 times as many as died on 9/11, and our president stayed at the ranch clearing brush.

BoingBoing also posts on an NBC correspondent's on-location blogging, the role of blogs covering the disaster, and links to a rating of tsunami charities.

More charities from Kos, and Making Light points to an information clearinghouse blog for all tsunami-related inquiries.

Eccentricity is embarassed by the behavior of the US government and press. That embarassment is only somewhat ameliorated by the fact that Bill Clinton made an effort to speak out, even though the damage is probably done in terms of international relations. Some of the hard-hit areas have been ripe recruiting grounds for Al Qaida, and even if Bush is incapable of leaping to do the right thing for its own sake, he should in theory be capable of doing the right thing because it's in our interests. So much for theory.

I was griping to a friend last night about how the initial aid offering was far less than Bush plans to spend on his inauguration, which has become a common gripe around the blogosphere, and what a wasted opportunity this was to reach out. He said that might be sort of hypocritical, and my response was that ultimately the disaster victims won't care. I mean they seemed pretty appreciative in Florida when the president made sure to be photographed handing out ice to people displaced by the hurricane, even though it wasn't much of a stretch to assume there was some electioneering going on. Wouldn't it be great if, for once, political hypocrisy helped some people who really needed it?

Note to Bush: You're in a popularity contest with Bin Laden for the hearts and minds of certain segments of the global population in his war against America. Unf*ckinbelievably, you're losing what should be a no contest fight. A fight you should be able to win with (to quote a Bush supporter) half your brain tied behind your back, just to make it fair. Not only are you stingy, Mr. Bush, you're stingy in deeply stupid and dangerous ways.

Note to prominent Democrats: Work with a relief effort, charter a plane, and get some of your high-profile backsides over to the disaster areas. Get some attention drawn to people who aren't tourists. If you have to stay home, throw some fundraising dinners for Doctors Without Borders or the IRC/RC, you're good at throwing fundraising dinners. Now, move it.

Posted by natasha at December 29, 2004 07:55 PM | | TrackBack(1) | Technorati links |

Unfortunately, I haven't the Democrats do squat, on ANYTHING, since the election.

It's so frustrating.

Posted by: paul at December 29, 2004 08:27 PM

I blogged about it and Juan Cole wrote about it today: this was a golden opportunity for a major boost in the campaign to win "hearts and minds".

Indonesia is a Muslim democracy, an ideal place to change minds, but Bush blew it again.

He has no empathy, he lacks what most would consider normal human feelings. He just doesn't get it.

Rove has slipped even lower as a political advisor for missing this chance to establish Bush on the world stage.

Posted by: Bryan at December 29, 2004 09:37 PM

This makes me sick. Bush's response does not really surprise me, though, nor should it surprise anyone. I also don't think this is a photo op for dems. The american people's charity will speak volumes. Our charity is a lot more than any other country would provide us.

Posted by: TABS at December 29, 2004 10:49 PM

"I also don't think this is a photo op for dems."

Practically anything a politician does that happens outside their usual routine could be regarded as a photo op. But this could be a chance for them to really create a photo op for non-tourists who have lost everything and desparately need help.

The fact that a given individual gets publicity is just that, a fact. If they use it for something good, well, that's a better justification of the fact of their prominence than many other ways they could use it.

But yes, the generosity of the American public will hopefully continue to tell the world that, like many of them, we're nicer than our leaders.

Posted by: natasha at December 30, 2004 05:03 PM

It comes across as fake if they do it out of routine. A.K.A. Jeb Bush's upcoming trip. That's a fact.

Posted by: TABS at December 31, 2004 08:25 PM