Irma Continues Her March through Florida

by Jim Geraghty

Today is September 11. For the rest of our lives, whenever we see an image of the Twin Towers — basically, any image of the New York City skyline between 1973 and 2001 — we’re going to think of that day.

Making the click-through worthwhile: The latest on Hurricane Irma, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg hints he has a disturbing disdain for privacy, a new politically-themed horror show on FX offers some unintended revelations, and National Review offers a special invitation.

Irma, the Southeast’s Unwanted Houseguest

The good news is Hurricane Irma is weakening. The bad news is that it has inflicted a heck of a lot of damage on Florida, and it’s not done yet.

Hurricane Irma was downgraded to a Category 1 storm Monday after it barreled into Florida on Sunday, crashing through the Florida Keys before making a second landfall near Naples on the Gulf Coast and setting a course for Georgia.

It flooded streets, snapped construction cranes and left 58 percent of all Florida electricity customers without power — about 5.8 million accounts — according to Florida’s State Emergency Response Team. The storm has killed at least 20 people since roaring out of the open Atlantic Ocean and chewing through a string of Caribbean islands.

At least 5 deaths in Florida were attributed to Irma, according to ABC News.

At 5 a.m. ET, the center of the storm was about 60 miles north of Tampa, Fla., the National Hurricane Center in Miami said. Irma is moving to the northwest at 18 mph with sustained winds of 75 mph.

Irma is expected to weaken further before becoming a tropical storm between northern Florida and southern Georgia on later Monday, the center said.

The current projection has Irma continuing northward and gradually weakening until it becomes a mere tropical depression . . .  in Indiana. (Come on, no one can be that depressed in a state that has Tony Katz.)

The hurricanes have been terrible, but doesn’t it feel like the response has been . . .  well, better? Perhaps the days, weeks, and months after Hurricane Katrina set a low bar, but these past few weeks have shown us the worst of times being met with the best of America. Perhaps it’s appropriate to note this on a date like today.

Houston Texans star J.J. Watt raised more than $30 million, volunteers continue to fly into Texas from all around the country to assist with cleanup and recovery, and a jaw-dropping 122,331 people were rescued or evacuated, along with 5,234 pets.

In Florida, television news crews recorded looters and they were promptly arrested, those sheltered in a hotel were serenaded by actress Kirsten Bell, and even manatees stranded on mudflats are getting rescued by hardy volunteers. The Department of Defense mobilized to help victims in the Caribbean. The only good thing about a disaster is that almost everybody wants to find some way to help:

States are obligated in most cases to pay a “match” for federal disaster aid, generally about 10 percent of the amount the federal government is paying in the immediate aftermath. But FEMA policy allows states to count volunteer hours as a payment toward that match, at $25 per hour. Harrison said that his group has already logged and reported to Texas more than 27,000 volunteer hours worth more than $675,000 toward the state’s required match.

Our Kevin Williamson looks at the fairly short-lived spikes in the cost of gasoline in Texas, the difficulty of getting additional gasoline to Florida before Hurricane Irma hit, and offers an assessment particularly resonant on this day:

Can we handle a couple of hurricanes? Sure. But the world contains uglier truths and wilder dangers – and the world knows where we live. In 2001, 19 misfits with box-cutters changed the course of world history and showed us that we were by no means prepared for the future – or even for the here and now. A little bit of weather can seriously disrupt Americans’ ability to provide themselves with food, fuel, and the other necessities of life. There are worse things than the weather, and we’d better get ready for them.

Why Does the Creator of Facebook Deem Private Life ‘A Lack of Integrity’?

I had not heard this comment from Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg, until I encountered it in Franklin Foer’s essay in Sunday’s Washington Post:

Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg has exclaimed his desire to liberate humanity from phoniness, to end the dishonesty of secrets. “The days of you having a different image for your work friends or co-workers and for the other people you know are probably coming to an end pretty quickly,” he has said. “Having two identities for yourself is an example of a lack of integrity.”

Tell that to Batman.

Really, if not different identities, don’t we all have slightly-different versions of ourselves that we sort through and showcase throughout the days and weeks of our lives? The kind of person we are at work, the kind of person we are when we’re alone with our spouses or significant others, the kind of person we are with our kids, the kind of person we are when we’re with our friends, and the kind of person we are when with a stranger? Why is it a “lack of integrity” to showcase one side of yourself on a job interview on Tuesday morning and another side of yourself Saturday night? Why on earth does Zuckerberg want to eliminate that? Why can’t we have different images for different groups of people? What on earth would bring this inherently a lack of integrity? Japan has the concept of honne and tatemae, public self and private self; Freud offered his elaborate theories about our ids and hidden desires and sides of ourselves we hide from the world. What makes this 33-year-old so hell-bent on blowing up this concept of human existence?

Foer concludes, “Privacy won’t survive the present trajectory of technology – and with the sense of being perpetually watched, humans will behave more cautiously, less subversively.”

Who knew that the Emma Watson film The Circle was a documentary?

American Horror Story: Hollywood Projection

Our Kyle Smith finds the latest Trump-focused season of FX’s show American Horror Story hilarious, and more than a bit revealing: in Hollywood’s eyes, they’re the bold independent freethinkers, and all of those folks on the right are the hive-like conformists:

When AHS stitches together liberal fears, a lot of ragged seams are left showing. One of the good Trump-hating liberals on the show lectures Kai (a Fox News-watching Trump fan), “You are afraid, we are not,” just before another Trump-hating liberal tells her shrink about all of her debilitating Trump-induced phobias, not excluding a fear of coral. Nor does it make a lot of sense when the Fox News–loving villain gives an angry speech praising collectivism: “Every single member of the hive is completely committed to a single task.” Er, remind me, which party’s last president said things like “preserving our individual freedom ultimately requires collective action”? Which party’s 2016 candidate issued a campaign manifesto called Stronger Together? Which one insists it takes a village to raise a child? To minute the most vivid left-wing fears is to produce a catalogue of projection.


Look, their fear is different!

ADDENDA: All of us at National Review hope you can join us for the Fourth Annual William F. Buckley Jr. Prize Dinner, held Wednesday, October 25 at Gotham Hall in New York City. (Sounds like the sort of place Batman would hang out, doesn’t it?)

The theme of this year’s dinner is “Books, Arts, & Manners” and we will be honoring world-class author Tom Wolfe with the William F. Buckley Prize for Leadership in Political Thought and Bruce and Suzie Kovner with the WFB Prize for Leadership in Supporting Liberty. The Kovners have supported and led organizations that defend private enterprise, free markets and free trade, protect individual rights, promoted scholarly research that strengthens American democratic principles; fought for education reform, particularly charter schools; and helped ensure the future of the major performing arts institutions of New York City.

Our master of ceremonies will be James Rosen of Fox News and the event will feature performances by students of The Juilliard School. More information about tickets and sponsorship can be found here. Hope to see you there.

The Morning Jolt

By Jim Geraghty