I love the blogger digby--I read her (and her co-bloggers) pretty much every day. But one has to bear in mind that she's an unrepentant, California, Baby Boom leftie. Which is one of the reasons I read her--God knows we need more of those--but sometimes it does irk me.
See, I live in Austin, and have for almost 10 years. My wife's family is in Louisiana, and we got there as often as we can. So I kind of have a different perspective than your garden-variety California progressive. And in one of her posts yesterday, digby's attitude, more than what she said, really kind of rankled. (Fortunately, Mike Madden of Salon had a partial antidote today--thanks, Mike!) digby's posts often have the subtext (or even the overt text!) of, "If only they would listed to us California Liberals, we'd all be doing so much better." This time, while she kept it below full-on digby bore, it was still discomfiting.
See, here's the thing: I'm reasonably sure that digby simply has no idea what life in the Gulf states, and particularly in Louisiana, is like. None. It can't be explained, it can only be experienced.
My in-laws are from Louisiana. My father-in-law works in the oil bidness for Halliburton. It's easy for people in California--I was one of them!--to think that Louisianans are clueless, back-country hicks who don't know what's good for them. The fact is, though, that it ain't true.
The oil business has been very, very good for Louisiana. My Father-in-law, starting life in a shack with no indoor plumbing, managed to buy a nice house, raise a family, and put two kids through college on oil money. So have tens of thousands of others in Louisiana and Texas. Yup, the business is crooked, and it dumps toxic shit into the water, and they have tanker leaks and explosions and leaky tanks that spill oil into hurricane-flooded rivers. And they put my Pop's kids through college, so they wouldn't have to live in Louisiana and drink toxic water and breathe chemical fumes from the PPG plant on the lake.
Add that to the fact that Louisiana politics is crooked, unbelievably crooked. This is the state that gave us Huey Long, remember. But do you know how folks in Louisiana remember Huey Long? "He built roads." That was Huey Long . . . if you're a Louisianan. This is the state where David Duke ran for Senate. This is the state where one gubernatorial contest was between an indicted felon and a convicted felon. This isn't simple "hand in the cookie jar" corruption; this is generations-long, nepotistic, ingrained corruption of the first water. And the problem is, as bad as it can be, those people often get shit done. So how are you supposed to feel about that? Appalled? Grateful? Disgusted? Relieved? Who the hell can say?
But Louisianans know the dangers. Believe me they do. Sami's grandfather died at 56 of heart failure--after jumping off an exploding rig and swimming for his life. People don't swim in Lake Charles, and make jokes about Gulf water. Rigs have been offshore since the 20s--these people know the score, believe me.
I think digby (and other non-Southern progressives) know this stuff intellectually, but until you've been there, lived there, had relatives working there, you can't understand it really, not in your gut. And until you do, your opinons are going to sound like those of an arrogant Yankee carpet-bagging liberal who thinks he or she knows what's best for those dumb, swamp-dwelling, gumbo-eating hicks. Even if that's not what you're thinking, that attitude seeps through. Believe me; Sami whacks me often enough over it.
I have enormous respect for digby. Huge. Hers is one of only three or four blogs that I read every day. But when it comes to the oil business, and the people who make their livlihoods from it, I don't think she really understands. So kvetch about Landrieu all you want--Lord knows she deserves it. But bear in mind that there's far worse out there than her. Louisianans know. They know, because they've lived through them.
Just something to think about.