Irene hit New York as a category 1 hurricane, which is much less than the category 3 originally predicted. Since that happened the right has launched a major attack on the Obama administration, accusing them of “over-hyping” the hurricane for political purposes. This started with a bunch of links on Drudge over the weekend that quickly garnered the attention of the right blogosphere (see here and here for starters) and even Fox News. Of course this helped lead to the bigger issue on the right – getting rid of the National Weather Service:
As Hurricane Irene bears down on the East Coast, news stations bombard our televisions with constant updates from the National Hurricane Center.
While Americans ought to prepare for the coming storm, federal dollars need not subsidize their preparations. Although it might sound outrageous, the truth is that the National Hurricane Center and its parent agency, the National Weather Service, are relics from America’s past that have actually outlived their usefulness.
Of course what Fox fails to mention in this piece is that a lot of the private sector weather services base their predictions off of data from the National Weather Service. It’s not like every weather service out there owns special airplanes they can fly through the eye-wall and get the most accurate data, or own a network of satellites to monitor the planet’s weather conditions. Instead they live in fantasy world, where everything the government does can be done so much better and cheaper by the private sector.
But was Irene really over-hyped? According to Nate Silver, absolutely not! Nate has taken to the statistics, something he is an expert at, and provided us with data showing that the coverage for Irene was far less that that for other storms of the same magnitude:
There is an interesting correction to make to this graph though. Since Nate authored that piece, the death toll from Irene has risen to 40, making it the 4th deadliest hurricane since 1980. The financial damages from Irene are also anything but “hype”, currently estimated at $20 billion. There are also still a million without power in New York alone and the east coast is still flooded.
Again – over-hype? I think not.
Then let’s consider this. We already see that Irene has caused some major damage and taken lives. Imagine if the media and government just ignored this hurricane? Imagine if Michel Bloomberg didn’t order the evacuation? We would be seeing a death toll much higher than it is now. We would also see the right calling for the head of Obama, but that part doesn’t really matter, since they are basically doing that now.
This is another example of how common sense falls short of partisan hype in our national debates. Predicting the weather is not an exact science. If it were, then George Bush should be held criminally negligent for his handling of Katrina.
The facts are this. President Obama didn’t order the coastal states to evacuate, their governors did. He acted upon the data available from something that isn’t an exact science and those actions, coupled with the actions of the east coast governors saved lives. The party of “life’”, the GOP, ignores that though and instead wants to use this as another attack against the White House, instead of worrying how we can rebuild the east coast and mourn those that perished.
It’s like I have said before, President Obama could cure cancer, aids and come up with an economic system totally ridding us of taxes and the right would blast him for it. I know some will say it’s because Obama is a black man, but Clinton went through the exact same thing. He had our economy rolling like we hadn’t seen in decades, yet the Republicans didn’t care about that. Instead all the Republicans wanted to do was destroy the man. How in the hell can the GOP even begin to say that they love this country? It’s obvious they care nothing about it, but only about their own beliefs. That is a cold hard fact that is backed by tons of evidence.