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The XX Files 9.14.05

It's all her fault


Let's blame the mothers, okay? It's all their fault. It always has been. Eve got busy with that apple and caused a world of misery. Pandora, ditto, except with a box. Freud's archetypal mother, complete with her rejecting womb and withholding boobs, caused all our quirks and peccadilloes.

Today we'll start with Mother Nature. Mother Nature threw this massive storm at the GulfCoast. She is wrathful, she is wicked. Of course, those high winds and waves might have been mitigated somewhat if certain men --- fathers of this country, if you will --- had paid attention to the numerous reports that the levees around New Orleans desperately needed fortification.

Also, the area might have withstood the storm if, in the 1800s, some of the great-grandfathers of this country hadn't gotten the bright idea of diverting Mississippi's outflow into the Gulf instead of letting the silt continue to replenish and strengthen the Delta. But wait, I'm off-track here. It's Mother Nature's fault. She blew the water and the waves, she crushed the houses, and she delayed rescue efforts by being so messy and persistent. It was not the fault of a dithering leader and his horse-trader pal, Michael Brown. If Mother Nature hadn't been on the rag, none of this would have happened.

Before we start blaming the next mother on my list, a real flesh-and-blood (though only barely, as you'll see) mother, I need to acknowledge my ambivalence about this topic. I'm the last person who should endorse blaming mothers. My own whelps are on the eve of the Age of Blaming, and I can just imagine what a holocaust of rage that will be. Then, when my kids are adults, they'll be joined by other people eager to blame me for every tiny thing they do wrong.

If my kids turn out to be, say, the world's first serial-killer brother team, I'll change my name and head for the hills. It's not that I won't be proud of my little angels --- they'll be the best damn serial killers in the history of depraved behavior --- it's that I don't want to undergo all that media scrutiny about what a lousy mother I must have been to raise such efficient and elusive murderers.

I'll take my chances on bad karma, though. It's just so much fun to play the Blame Game, Special Edition: Moms. Let's turn our attention to Barbara Bush, who has ice water, not blood, running through her veins. It's all her fault that President Bush grossly mishandled the GulfCoast rescue efforts. Here's proof: As she walked among the 15,000 evacuees in the Astrodome, she didn't see thousands of shocked, bereft, and frightened survivors of a horrific event. She saw opportunists. Arrivistes.

"So many of the people, in the arena, here, you know, were underprivileged anyway. This is, this is, [little laugh] working very well for them," she said on NPR's Marketplace. It's that heartless chuckle that drives home her intent. And if W's mother not only thinks this kind of thing, but feels comfortable saying it out loud, can't we blame her for raising a son who is contemptuous of suffering Americans? It's not a stretch to imagine Barb, called the Enforcer in her family, raising W on a cocktail of hatred and bigotry mixed in with mother's milk.

Not convinced that Bush's disregard for Katrina's human toll has his mother's fingerprints all over it? Read this comment, made in the same breath as the "working very well for them" quote but edited out of nearly all the mainstream press coverage until the blogosphere forced it to the forefront: "What I'm hearing, which is sort of scary, is they all want to stay in Texas."

Moving on to a woman I don't know anything about: FEMA director Michael Brown's mother. Can we blame her for raising a son whose incompetence caused people to die? Okay, to be fair, maybe anyone would have been overwhelmed in that situation. Maybe we should just blame her for raising a son whose incompetence caused people to die andwho, only after being removed to Washington --- where he couldn't do further harm --- finally bowed out. No? Not really her fault?

I know we can't blame her for this little stunt: When Brown finally requested help from Homeland Security, he told the workers that part of their task was to "convey a positive image of disaster operations." Ass-covering, at least, seems to be one strength he has.

Okay, okay. I've got it: Let's blame Brown's mother for raising a son with such low self-esteem that his resume is about as solid as the ground in New Orleans' 9th Ward. Self-image problems? Ask anyone: That's always mom's fault.

But maybe I'm seeing this in the wrong light. These mothers probably think they did great jobs raising sons who reflect their values. Barbara Bush must be tickled pink that, according to a report last month, the US poverty rate is up for the fifth year in a row. That's an all-time record! If only there were a trophy she could display to commemorate this achievement.

History is one thing, but what has Bush done lately to ensure that the underclass stays way, way down there (preferably out of Texas) where it belongs? Why, just last week he signed an executive order that suspends the prevailing wage rule in New Orleans, DailyKos reports. This means federal contractors rebuilding the city can offer super low wages to workers and not be penalized. Skilled workers can expect hard work and possibly poverty-level wages. Where the hell were the Democrats when Bush pulled this fast one? Teddy Kennedy, for one, whined that he regrets Bush's decision. Why didn't Kennedy raise more of a stink? I think we all know who's to blame for that.