Rightbloggers Shiver at Hurricane Irene, Denounce Obama For Not Screwing It Up
Not that they let that stop them.
We had to expect, and are inclined to excuse, rightbloggers who merely stuck conservative boilerplate on disaster news reports -- for example, The Lonely Conservative, which headlined a post "Saturday Evening Quick Hits - Irene Edition" and proceeded almost immediately to "Did you hear about the hit piece the New York Times put out against Rep. Darryl Issa?" We know how it is, buddy -- gotta hunt where the ducks are.
Conservatives being natural fearmongers, we also had to expect rightblogger posts that attempted to rattle their readerships -- or that denounced others who didn't share their feelings of terror. (We may call this phenomenon "9/11 Syndrome.") Our favorite in this category was a post at RedState entitled "Is The Drudge Report Low Balling Hurricane Irene?" ("If Matt Drudge wants to be a skeptic that's his prerogative, but as well trafficked as his site is he should feel a greater sense of responsibility at the very least.") Have You Forgotten This Coming Weekend?
All media sources, of course, had a stake in keeping their readers terrified enough to tune in for disaster news, but it seemed to us that rightbloggers went heavier on the armageddon angle than most. There were, for example, Brendan Loy's slightly hysterical dispatches, including this one: "It's also time for NYC's local officials to stop pretending that a Category 1 hurricane strike is the 'worst-case scenario' for their city. That sort of false reassurance, masquerading as a warning, is deeply unhelpful..." Loy also denounced New York's Mayor Bloomberg for not being pro-active enough against what turned out to be a non-disaster ("Is the mayor of New York an idiot?").
"Been reading Tweets all morning from people up North who are whining about the inconvenience of having to prepare/change their daily routine/evacuate," complained Sister Toldjah. This "makes my blood boil.... People laugh at us here in NC sometimes because the bread and milk and batters fly off the shelves at the first sign of a snowflake. But I personally would rather be prepared and not need things than to need things and not be prepared." If your local stores were sold out of flashlights by Thursday, you may be sure Sister Toldjah or her generic equivalent lives in your neighborhood -- her basement full of hand-cranked and battery-operated equipment and shotguns, ready for anything.
Some really went flying off the deep end. You probably saw dozens of pre-Irene checklists on the internet, but the lists made by rightbloggers always had a little something extra; at Big Government, for example, Michelle Lancaster began her list with "1. Don't rely on FEMA. The local, state and federal government are not there to help you." That's getting your priorities straight! Get bottled water, but first remember to reject statism!
But the cake-taker was rightwing chiropractor Melissa Clouthier. Under the headline "PREPARE!" Clouthier advised her readers to get set not only for disaster, but also for marauding gangs of post-Irene monsters -- especially in New York, because you know how those people are.
"New York is going to have some problems that New Orleans had," warned Clouthier. "A rather land-locked populace, many of whom rely on public transportation. The time for leaving is now. You have two days. Don't dally."
You know what time it is, America? Time to FREAK THE FUCK OUT!
Clouthier then advised readers in the area to stock up on several items, some of them ordinary ("extra paper goods"), some of them extraordinary -- e.g., "Buy a chainsaw now. Laugh if you will, but we helped many people get out of their driveways and out of neighborhoods with our chainsaw. People were stuck." (That's how you spot one of those rare New York Republicans: he spends a pre-disaster weekend desperately scouring Chelsea for a chainsaw.)
Also, Clouthier said everyone should buy guns, because "people get desperate." And New York's post-Irene flash mob rampages proved her point!
"You're probably thinking this is melodramatic," cried Clouthier wildly like Kevin McCarthy at the end of Invasion of the Body Snatchers. "Not so much. Things get primal awfully quickly. When it comes down to it, there will be a grim determination that sets in. You'll start only seeing men at the grocery store. You'll see panicked people pleaded with grocers for more water. You'll wish you had prepared. You'll feel foolish because you knew what you should do but you didn't do it..." But by then IT WILL BE TOO LATE!
On the more theoretical but no less bizarre side, Ira Stoll speculated on the possibility of "Irene Price Gouging." No, he wasn't writing to denounce it, but to warn that "opportunistic politicians will soon be out denouncing price-gouging connected with Hurricane Irene..."
Stoll felt that, even if someone charged you $100, or perhaps your anal virtue, for a gallon of gas, still "this strikes me as one of those things where self-regulation works pretty well. If a retailer sets a price too high, he may not sell what he wants to sell, and he may alienate customers." The possibility that the seller may quickly melt into the darkness and thus be unconcerned with his future in that specific market seems not to have occurred to Stoll.
"On the other hand," Stoll added, "forcing retailers to keep prices low might just assure that scarce supplies sell out quickly to hoarders or resellers. That's why you see subjective words such as 'unconscionably excessive,' 'excessive,' or 'too much' in these statutes, or in descriptions of them by politicians." Nannies ruin everything; once upon a time you could watch a man die of thirst because he didn't have a nickel for a drink from your water barrel, and no one would hassle you.
Of course, as in all things, Obama was blamed -- but rightbloggers had trouble deciding what to blame him for. The government handling of the storm seemed to go smoothly, and the President returned from his Massachusetts vacation before the storm hit -- his absence having given them a hook in recent days ("Obama Briefed on Hurricane Irene -- Goes Golfing").
By and large, they settled on free association.