Art Pottery, Politics and Food
Monday, January 03, 2005

An Australian soldier distributes water in Banda Aceh

This morning several of our more visible media institutions resemble the fat, over jeweled and panicked frozen pie buyers I described in Saturday’s post.
Selfishly unable to face the uncomfortable questions about our belief and technological systems engendered by a disaster unparalleled in modern human history, as my fat ladies were unable to cope with clogged checkout lines at the grocery, these fat, panicked pinnacles of allegedly western thought wrap themselves in delusion and pitifully hunt for intellectual scapegoats instead of reporting, as do other media institutions, the hideously slow and possibly failing pace of the global relief effort.
It appears, from a cursory read of today’s New York Times, Washington Post and other select foreign and domestic press that the mounting clamor from humanity’s global family to further intensify efforts to assist the millions of tsunami victims is being muted before the American people with a sugar-coating of good news spin lest the eagerly sought cash bonanza and/or domestic agenda of the big corporations and the Bush administration be sidetracked from Denny Hastert’s quick and deadly January/February congressional coup de grâce.
Or, perhaps, in the words of this morning’s NYT blog scapegoat snipe hunt, I’m simply engaging, and who should know better than our dainty Times, in “the blogosphere's tendency toward crackpot theorizing and political smack down.”
Maybe I should let you, dear reader, be the judge.
While UN officials are reportedly “optimistic” that initial relief supplies and volunteer aid workers are arriving, according to the London Guardian:

Aid workers across southern Asia faced a logistical nightmare in distributing hundreds of tons of emergency supplies. "It's absolute chaos," said Titon Mitra of Care International, which is running 14 survivor camps in Aceh.

According to The Scotsman:

United Nations chiefs have admitted that, a week after the Asian tsunami disaster, the supply chains to deliver vital aid to millions of desperate survivors are still not in place.

However, back home at the New York Times, the kind people who brought you “cakewalk”, “nuclear Iraq”, “bold Bush” and “waffling” Kerry, skies, excepting those dark and malevolent blog clouds, are sunny with headlines like:

Disaster’s Damage to Economies May Be Minor

Relief Effort Gains as Aid Is Reaching More Survivors


Aid Workers Bring Order to Generosity

Now even my tinfoil hat isn’t so tight that I cannot admit these headlines are technically true. Simply more than one survivor seeing a doctor or getting a bowl or rice allows the Times to proclaim “Aid Is Reaching More Survivors” while minimizing quotations form UN officials and aid workers.
My tinfoil chapeau, technically a comfortable fit, is merely wondering what motivates our slightly soiled gray lady.

At the Washington Post headline skies are only occasionally sunny:

One Week After Tsunami, Signs of Renewal in Asia


Distribution System Is Not Working

Other bloggers greater that I, and that’s not saying much, have posted about major media’s curious fudging of the amount of the President’s initial aid offer.
I, personally via the toob, heard the $15 million figure within a day or two of the December 26, 2004 disaster; a figure one commenter on the Atrios site compaired to New York City snow removal rather than appropriate for a disaster of this magnitude.
Despite my lying ears, major media has been reporting the President’s initial offer as “$35 million generously multiplied to $350 million.”
Is it “crackpot theorizing” for bloggers to wonder why the media does this?
Is my “tinfoil hat” making me wonder why $300 billion and our vast military logistics machine, most specially in light of the tsunami disaster, is being squandered in Iraq?
Is it a “political smackdown” to suggest that a more massive United States effort in this heavily Moslem part of the world could help us win the war on terror?
As an ordinary person with little to offer but my own thoughts, I’m wondering why.

Photo: Reuters

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