Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Odds & Ends: Sylvia Ewing, Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, Brian Azcona & Jason Neville, our Rebecca, BuzzFlash, Ari Berman, Lukery

A few thing to note. First, the mid-morning post became a later post due to something I knew members would be angry about. (They were.) That's why it was included. For the record, as our Texas members point out, besides "red state" being a media myth an attempt to prove that a "red state" is doing something should rest upon actions by the state, from the state government. Texas members are very vocal that Rick Perry (Republican governor of Texas) has done very little. Where the action has come from is Dallas and Houston. Houston's mayor is Bill White. White is a Democrat. Dallas' mayor is Laura Miller. Miller is a Democrat. (And married to a "brave Democrat" -- Billie -- who had the guts to walk out on redistricting. Steve Wolens. He was part of the Democratic group of state reps that went to Oklahoma when the Tom Delay scheme of redistricting was pushed forth.) (And before someone questions that with "New Mexico!" Billie, Dallas, In Dallas, Big Sandy, Lindale, Thomas, Suzette, Ellis, End Zone, Rick, Carol and others have been very clear in their e-mails. New Mexico is where the state senators went to attempt to stop redistricting. That was the second walk out. The first one was by the state reps.) (Woolens is no longer a state rep. Billie states that he decided not to run for re-election. Partly due to a new house the mayor had constructed that put him in a new district.)

So the point here is that it's probably a good idea not to try to build an argument on a media myth. (We've dealt with the nonsense of "red states" here long, long ago.) The second point is, don't shore up points for Republicans at the state level based upon the actions led by Democrats on the municipal level. The cities of Dallas and Houston each made their own decisions.

For the record, I did attempt to address this earlier today in a draft version of what finally posted. I was dictating it because I wasn't near a computer. When it was read back to me, I knew it was a nightmare of twists and turns. I (quickly) tried twice to improve it. With no luck at that, I then axed that section and a friend sent the entry into the site without it.

(And before the person attempts to argue tomorrow that Republicans serve on the City Councils of both cities, I'm sure that they do. But my understanding from members is that the mayors led on this. And the basis of the argument rested on the nonsense of "red states." Also note, Billie's acting as editor on a piece that will include comments from our Texas community members. This will run in Friday's gina & krista round-robin so watch for it.)

Dale e-mails to note Sylvia Ewing's "Katrina, Kanye and speaking out" (The Chicago Defender):

My children called my attention to what hip- hop artist Kanye West had to say during a recent public appearance, reminding me once again why our youth should be seen and listened to.
Kanye West was emotional and stumbled a bit, but he spoke from the heart when he skipped the script during an NBC telethon to raise money for the victims of Hurricane Katrina. He is from Chicago, home of straight talk – good bad or ugly – but I’m not sure the rest of the country understands.† Here is a translation.†
Kanye West is a young Black man calling it as he sees it.† It is our inability to cope with nature and poor public policy choices, which increased the devastation. It is important to understand the context of his remarks. There is, no matter how we try to disguise it, racism is a deep tissue wound, a cancer in the United States.† It damages the sprit of this country in the best of times and does not go away in the worst of times.†

Gore Vidal Is God e-mails to note Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz's "John Wayne and New Orleans Indians" (CounterPunch):

"The Cavalry is coming!" announced a reporter on the Fox News Channel when finally National Guardsmen trooped into downtown New Orleans on the fourth day of apocalypse. I said to myself, "There they go again, racist Fox News."
I switched channels and found reporters and government officials repeating the same phrase, "The Cavalry has arrived." I should not have been surprised; during the preceding two days, they had been referring to the scene in brown water-lodge New Orleans, not as genocide as I saw it, rather "the wild west."
Racism on top of racism, revealing the scaffolding of United States' history, its intact structure bared, all the glitter and trappings washed away.
New Orleans became "Indian Country," the military term for enemy territory. "This place is going to look like Little Somalia," Brigadier General Gary Jones, commander of the Louisiana National Guard's Joint Task Force told Army Times, for an article published September 2, 2005. "We're going to go out and take this city back. This will be a combat operation to get this city under control." The Army Times report could have been about Baghdad in stating: "While some fight the insurgency in the city, others carry on with rescue and evacuation operations."

Brent e-mails to note that American military fatality rate in Iraq is ten for the month. That's 10. Today is September 7th. I'll add to that by noting that Kirk Semple offered "brave" coverage of Iraq in today's New York Times -- baseball. On the front page. And people wonder why I make the jokes about the Times staff wearing atheletic cups to work?

The ten raises the count the total count to 1894. Remember, these are the official counts and do not include people who are injured but taken out of Iraq that end up dying while receiving treatment elsewhere. As The Third Estate Sunday Review noted July 11th, "Editorial: Time to Head On Home."

Third Party e-mails to note Brian Azcona and Jason Neville's "Unnatural Disaster: Louisiana's Crisis in Policy and Planning" (Green Party):

In the wake of this devastating Hurricane, when the thousands of stranded people have finally been moved to dry ground, people will rightly question how such a disaster could occur; they will wonder how our home town of New Orleans could simply fill up like a bowl and wash away almost our entire human habitat. Some may point figures at government, blaming the Army Corps of Engineers for faulty construction. Others may attribute the disaster to the power of the storm that the USA Today labeled the "160 mile/hr Monster." In reality a single cause cannot explain much of anything; but if we wish to learn something from this nightmare, it makes sense to concentrate on those actors over which we can exert some influence: the environmental and urban planning/engineering dimensions.
To do so, we must evaluate critically and honestly the policy decisions we made leading up to the disaster, so we can plan wisely and sustainably when we rebuild our much-loved home.

The Politics of Nature
Politicians, policy-makers, academics, and committed citizens have long recognized the dangers of a potentially disastrous hurricane. President Carter created FEMA in 1979 to address the country's worst-case disaster scenarios, and New Orleans has consistently been at the top of that list. In 1995 International Panel on Climate Change of the United Nations identified New Orleans as the most vulnerable North American city to global climate change, because sea-level rise and elevating temperatures of the Gulf of Mexico intensify the frequency and power of hurricanes. The recent destruction of human life, property and one this nation's greatest historic and cultural treasures demands a critical assessment of how authorities confronted and prepared for a hurricane strike that was seen as inevitable. For the crisis of New Orleans is the quagmire of unsustainability, which is a problem the entire nation faces. Sadly enough, after the realization of the worst-case scenario, it seems the best case scenario might be that we pause, question and prepare a plan that will work this time around.
Media commentators treat Katrina as the culmination of the bad idea called New Orleans: a city whose precarious existence is the fault of poor site selection in 1699 by French explorers. They ignore the more recent history of dramatic landscape alternations, which exacerbated the city's exposure to floods. The reality is that in the last century, over 1.2 million acres of land have disappeared, in large part, as a consequence of land-misuse-that includes oil, gas, and timber extraction; industrial, commercial, agricultural, and residential development.
These economic activities required destructive modifications to the coastal areas such as erosive canals, levees, and drainage systems. Historically, these coastal wetlands provided invaluable flood protection by acting as a sponge to soak-up the menace of storm surge. Where land once stood is now open water, providing fuel to the furry of hurricanes. And because the developed land-compacted soils, pavement and concrete-cannot hold water from rains and floods, all water must eventually go back to the Gulf. In effect, this combination constituted a hydrological contradiction to growth in southeastern Louisiana: development reduced the absorbent capacity of the region, while simultaneously increasing runoff and toxicity. In other words, economic growth translated into more water, more danger, and a greater and increasingly imminent catastrophe.

Jennifer e-mails to note Rebecca's "disgusted" (Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude):

[. . .] we were talking about how the media portrayals made the victims the others, portraying them as savages that needed a strong hand.
people need a helping hand but this administration doesn't know how to help. they know how to aim guns. they know how to treat people as less than human.
i was out of the country on my vacation and the more violent the nature of the story, such as looting, the more it got play in the media. i'm assuming it was the same here.
i'm also disgusted by the lack of accountability on bully boy's part and the notion that he can't investigate himself. his administration failed. we need an independent investigation.
this is just like 9/11 all over again. he won't take accountability. they keep trotting out that they had no idea. they keep trying to turn our nation into a police state. and their only answer to anything is military.
i'm also really concerned about the rebuilding because, and democracy now! has done a great job covering this, the rebuilding will most likely focus on the wealth and on bringing in money. it won't focus on the people who lost the apartment or the house that they didn't have insurance on. it's as though bloomberg was able to recreate new york city into an all white city.and now fema's saying no photos of the dead bodies. it's just like hiding the coffins coming here from iraq. there is no accountability, there are only illusions under the bully boy. it's disgusting.not only do we need to see the bodies, bully boy should have to be on camera, live, watching the bodies be carried off.

Jennifer also notes how thrilled she is that Rebecca's back. (I am too, Jennifer.) She wonders if there's any news about Elaine in terms of will she start a site. (Someone's not working the links, Jennifer. Seriously, stay tuned for the next entry.)

BuzzFlash has their latest Wings of Justice honoree. They also have an editorial that we'll be highlighting tomorrow. (Why the wait? I need something to pad out the Times entries when they're doing happy talk.) (Maybe they won't be tomorrow? For safety sake, we'll quote from the editorial tomorrow so we can have some reality in what might otherwise provide little.)

Trevor notes Ari Berman's "The Strategic Class" (The Nation):

In July 2002, at the first Senate hearing on Iraq, then-Senate Foreign Relations Committee chair Joe Biden pledged his allegiance to Bush's war. Ever since, the blunt-spoken Biden has seized every opportunity to dismiss antiwar critics within his own party, vocally denouncing Bush's handling of the war while doggedly supporting the war effort itself. Biden carried this message into the Kerry campaign as the candidate's closest foreign policy confidant, and a few days after announcing his own intention to run for the presidency in 2008, he gave a major speech at the Brookings Institution in which he criticized rising calls for withdrawal as a "gigantic mistake."
The Democrats' speculative front-runner for '08, Hillary Clinton, has offered similarly hawkish rhetoric. "If we were to artificially set a deadline of some sort, that would be like a green light to the terrorists, and we can't afford to do that," Clinton told CBS in February. Instead, she recently proposed enlarging the Army by 80,000 troops "to respond to threats wherever danger lies." Clinton, a member of the Armed Services Committee, appears more comfortable accommodating the President's Iraq policy than opposing it, and her early and sustained support for the war (and frequent photo-ops with the troops) supposedly reinforces her national security credentials.
The prominence of party leaders like Biden and Clinton, and of a slew of other potential prowar candidates who support the US invasion and occupation of Iraq, presents the Democrats with an odd dilemma: At a time when the American people are turning against the Iraq War and favor a withdrawal of US troops, and British and American leaders are publicly discussing a partial pullback, the leading Democratic presidential candidates for '08 are unapologetic war hawks. Nearly 60 percent of Americans now oppose the war, according to recent polling. Sixty-three percent want US troops brought home within the next year. Yet a recent National Journal "insiders poll" found that a similar margin of Democratic members of Congress reject setting any timetable. The possibility that America's military presence in Iraq may be doing more harm than good is considered beyond the pale of "sophisticated" debate.

Trevor feels it should have been spotlighted sooner. I got that issue and the next one in the mail today. I'm working through the print editions unless members give a heads up. There's already a new issue out and I haven't gotten that one yet, so I'm three behind. When you see something, e-mail and we'll include it. Trevor's right that Berman's article is one we should be aware of. (And I'm not slamming The Nation's mailings. My mail arrives late, if it arrives at all, and we'll leave it at that.)

Heads up to a post by Lukery at wotisitgood4 on the press reactions to Putin in 2000 (when the submarine Kursk sank) and the press reactions to Bully Boy with regard to Hurricane Katrina and the aftermath.

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