Friday, September 01, 2006

homeless again

This both breaks my heart and pisses me the fuck off. How ridiculous is it that FEMA would refuse to aid people whose homes were flooded up to the rooftops because they didn't have proper documentation - as if most of that proper documentation wasn't lost in the floodwaters? Who thinks this stuff up?

As for the Houstonians who are calling for the evacuees to "go home": fuck you. Seriously. It should be obvious to anyone with half a brain that most of these people don't have homes to go back to - what, you think they just love being your neighbor? I doubt it. We busted our asses one year ago today to do the right thing, and now we are just gonna reneg on all that? You should be ashamed of yourselves. We did do the right thing, people. And we should keep doing the right thing.

As far as the crime goes, yeah, it sucks. Some of it is to be expected - you can't grow a city by 150,000 people overnight and expect nothing but love-ins and kumbaya. Some of it is more than what should be expected. I think that has to be acknowledged. But its not right to say you wanna kick some 100k people out of town (as if you can do that!) because of the immoral actions of a nasty few. Instead, y'all need to be breathing down the neck of our federal government, asking where the hell all that funding they promised us went. HPD is seriously understaffed, especially in west and southwest Houston where the population increase was most notable. We need more cops and more resources available in those hotspots.

Hey FEDS! Remember us? We did our part. We did what you obviously didn't have the heart or the brains to do. Its time for you to do YOUR part - both for the New Orleans diaspora and for the people who took them in when you were too busy with your photo-ops and shoe shopping.


Nothin' but clear skies...

god the socialist, pt. 1

I was aimlessly flipping through my new Bible last night (a birthday gift from my evangelical parents who are still struggling to "get" my lefty Christianity) and stumbled upon a story that I remember from my studies as a child: the story of Joseph and the Pharaoh's dreams. Reading it again, God's diction of governmental policy really struck me:

"It is just as I said to Pharaoh: God has shown Pharaoh what he is about to
do. Seven years of great abundance are coming throughout the land of
Egypt, but seven years of famine will follow them. Then all the abundance
in Egypt will be forgotten, and the famine will ravage the land. The abundance
in the land will not be remembered, because the famine that follows it will be
so severe. The reason the dream was given to Pharaoh in two forms is that the
matter has been firmly decided by God, and God will do it soon.
now let Pharaoh look for a discerning and wise man and put him in charge of the
land of Egypt. Let Pharaoh appoint commissioners over the land to take a fifth
of the harvest of Egypt during the seven years of abundance. They should collect
all the food of these good years that are coming and store up the grain under
the authority of Pharaoh, to be kept in the cities for food. This food should be
held in reserve for the country, to be used during the seven years of famine
that will come upon Egypt, so that the country may not be ruined by the famine."

In this instance isn't God essentially ordering a socialist-style redistribution of the wealth (measured here in grain) of Egypt?

This seemed significant to me because its the first time I personally remember God bringing government specifically into His plan for economic fairness. Anyone who knows anything about Christianity knows about Christ's deep concern for the poor and His requirements of the more wealthy to provide for "the least of these." Its almost impossible to dispute the Bible's overall disapproval of the accumulation of and overwhelming concern with wealth (mammon)... remember the camel & the eye of the needle? Somehow, though, Republicans have managed to reconcile within their own minds their political policies which encourage greed and perpetuate poverty with their religious beliefs. This reconciliation has no substance, of course, and I pray that those who think it is a secure solution wake up - but they will argue this nonexistent compatibility nonetheless.

One of the conrnerstones of that argument as I have always heard it was this angle: that God meant for us to be charitable to our brothers and sisters, but he never intended for us to use government to do it. The above passage, though, seems to give the lie to that line of thought, as God specifically outlines a new governmental department and then tells Pharaoh to charge it with "taxing" surplus goods to be redistributed to whomever needs them at a later date.

Am I missing the mark on this? If so, how?

Thursday, August 31, 2006


Am I the only one who thinks the right wing hysteria over the impending visit of former Iranian President Khatami is, well, lame? Its not like the guy is going to show up donning a backpack bomb .... he is coming here to SPEAK. Are we honestly so paranoid at this point that speech freaks us out so?

This post in particular bothers me. Why should we be trying to "impress" anyone? Is that all that the concept of freedom of discourse is about for some people on the right - its just a convenient card in some silly game of worldwide oneupmanship, to be used when it best suits us and discarded when it doesn't particularly improve our hand?

And to think these creepo's consider themselves "defenders of the Constitution".... ugh.

hey democrats - ya dimwits

I'm not quite sure how I missed this post in the excellent Balkinization (I'll get my links up and running one of these days, I swear), but the points it lays out are both basic and true. A city is nothing without its infrastructure, and NOLA's is barely limping along. How can people be expected to move back to (and invest their money in) a city with frequent blackouts (and in THIS HEAT!), a decrepit water system, no medical or mental health care, etc.?

But I'm even more glad that the author makes a point of "not excepting the Democrats." I cannot stress enough how important it is for the Democrats to take a public stand on this issue, or how completely and utterly stupid the way they have been handling it has been. The "blame game" is necessary (contrary to Bush administration opinion) and has its role to play, but New Orleans will not rise on finger pointing alone. The things the Gulf Coast region needs right now are for the most part mind-numbingly simple - coming up with ideas is always easier than executing them, of course, but given the immediacy of the issue and the basic, humanitarian goals it entails, there is NO reason why there aren't more quality ideas being floated by the left. People say lefties aren't leaders. This is the perfect chance to prove them wrong - and save a vital part of America in the process. The opportunity is there, waiting .... so whose bright idea has it been to keep stepping over it???

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

oh, yeah....about that candidacy.....

Does anyone else think that the arrest of William Jeffs might be the last nail in the coffin of Mitt Romney's presidential aspirations? As I understand it, Jeffs will be prosecuted in two states: Utah and Arizona. No doubt both trials will delve deeply into his fundamentalist Mormon lifestyle, complete with polygamy and sex with numerous underage "wives" as young as 12. There has already been significant concern floated over how Romney's Mormonism would play nationally and especially among "heartland" conservative Christians. After months of sensational stories about this creep and his creepy sect is there any chance people will somehow overcome the "Mormon factor"?

ignorance must be bliss....

I mean, its not often that blatant neoconservative partisanship surprises me,

It took me til today to get up the nerve to hit The Corner (that famous repository of quasiintelligent neocon vomit) to see what the official talking points on the Katrina anniversary were ....frankly, my nerves were too shot yesterday to deal with the blether. I figured I'd be wading through the typical "don't count on government" yet "FEMA rocks!" blame-the-victim tripe, but what I found might have been even more repulsive.

Not a single mention of Katrina - not one, the whole day. Look for yourself.

Here you've got a group of supposed intellectuals who fancy themselves quite in tune with the important issues here in America ... .and not one of them has the cajones to even simply acknowledge the fact that a disaster of Katrina's magnitude happened one year ago yesterday?

(Yet how much you wanna bet that come 9/11/06 the forum will be covered in sackcloth and filled with the sounds of weeping and gnashing of teeth?)

I guess its typical of the current neocon mindframe.... stick yer head in the sand, hum a little louder, everything will be alright by and by....

.....but still. How fuckin' sick.

will democrats find god? pt. 1

I haven't had time to read the annual Pew poll on religion & politics just yet, but this Slate article comes pretty close to describing my feelings on the continued slow bleed of religious voters out of the Democratic party:

A) What has already started at the roots has not yet reached the visible top (the religious left is quietly but distinctively gathering strength, you'll see). But more importantly;

B) The problem isn't that Democrats have no faith - it is that we are allowing Republicans to define what "faith" is.

As long as your average, semi-religious Joe Schmoe sees religion only in terms of abortion, gay rights and what we call that smelly tree we put in the lobby in late December the Democratic party will never stand a chance with them. We cannot - we should not - change our stance dramatically on any of the above issues. They are hallmarks of our firm belief in freedom greater than what any one religion allows, and thats not something thats worth compromising, not for religious voters or anyone.

BUT.... fortunately for us, religion is about SO much more than that.

Therefore, we've got to reframe the debate. Remind those Christians that Jesus said "turn the other cheek," not "an eye for an eye." Show them - with the tons of irrefutable evidence located in every religious book there is - that religion is more about caring for others than it is about legalism. That's the only shot we have. Why are so few Democratic politicians willing to take it?

PS - Obama had it RIGHT.

welcome to bushland, inc.

In all its present glory.

25% of Texas children live below the federal poverty level.

29% of black households in Houston live below the federal poverty level.

And yet the guy (or rather, the crew) who got us there was promoted to national prominence.

Its enough to make you wonder about the sanity of the American public (if you weren't already)....


a slightly crass question, perhaps

The workers at the WTC knew they were working in a dangerous place. Are their families any less deserving of our help because of it?

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

one year....gone

How do you create on a day that reeks so strongly of destruction?

One year and maybe a few minutes ago, a friend told me that she had heard that a levee had been breeched in New Orleans. Overtopped, I asked? No, breeched. Crumbled. Gone.

Gone. Yeah, a lot of things were gone at that moment. Gone was the New Orleans I loved (though I knew her little), who convinced me finally that the south wasn’t all that bad. Gone were the lives of some 1800 people who lived along the Gulf Coast and all the hopes and dreams and savings of hundreds of thousands of others. Gone were the days when we could trust the government we funded to have our backs when the worst of the worst happened – hell, they couldn’t even bring water to Americans dying of thirst.

And as the days and months have crawled by, we have lost even more.

Our unity, our grit, our determination, our sense of civic duty – are they gone, too?

I’m struggling to reach another conclusion, but I’m not sure that I can.

Today the nation will be awash in Katrina memorabilia. But when tomorrow comes, how many will still care? We know now, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the flooding of New Orleans was a man-made catastrophe, borne of the incompetence of the Army Corps of Engineers. Yet how many of us outside the affected area are aware of this? How many are paying attention?

And more importantly – how many are willing to help???

How sick is it that there are people who consider the destruction of a historic gem of an American city a blessing? How bizarre is it that they talk of “closing” New Orleans as if it were a gas station or a grocery store, not the place that generations upon generations have called their home? How can these people justify picking the nits in the Katrina clean-up budget while they dump money into a foreign land most of us will never see or know?

Doesn’t the concept of being “American” mean anything to them???

Well, it still does mean something to a few of us. And it is in that spirit that I write this post and start this blog.

No one – not one American – should be referring to the citizens of the Gulf Coast as “they,” as some separate entity, a people apart and alone in their struggles. The America I grew up believing in would never have done that to its own. “They” are really “we”, their struggles are OUR struggles, and this chapter in OUR history cannot and will not be closed until each of our fellow Americans is able to return home safely and until a great American city is up on her feet once again.

We have a responsibility here, people – one that goes beyond petty partisanship and divisions. And if we cannot see that, then truly as a nation we are not OK.