Thursday, August 31, 2006

Help clear Ms. Regina's yard

I was going to send a message to all the local contacts I have to help clear Ms. Regina's yard, but I haven't had time to assemble a mailing list. For now, just to keep this in play and get it done, I'll post here what I'm thinking:

  • I'd personally like to do it on Saturday, but I'm not available until about 11:00 Saturday morning -- which is not to say that I have to be there when the work starts.

  • Karen suggested Sunday, and I would be fine with that, but that's my birthday and I might make other plans for Sunday afternoon -- which leaves Sunday morning when, of course, many people will be in church.

  • It might be better for everyone to agree on a time they want to do it, and I'll stay out of the those discussions, since I don't want to be the one to get in other people's way.

  • Sheik said this would be a heck of a lot easier than removing the insides of the house. He's willing to help with the lot clearing.

  • I talked to one of Ms. Regina's neighbors, Wendell Bloodworth. Check this out people: Wendell is singlehandedly responsible for keeping all of the public greens in the neighborhood cut, and he also keeps the lawns cut for a number of neighbors -- voluntarily! He offered to do Ms. Regina's lot as well, but I think most everyone would agree that it isn't fair to unload that responsibility onto someone else -- at least not the initial clearing.

  • Tools -- people would have to bring tools: machetes, chain saws, strong weedwackers.
What do people think?

Respond to the above, and I'll assemble a list from those responses (and previous offers of assistance). Then I'll take the discussion offline to an email list.

Eddie Jordan is a great big cry baby!

The top prosecutor in New Orleans stormed out of an interview when he couldn't rationally answer a question posed by ABC News journalist Brian Ross:

"There has been growing criticism by senior people in law enforcement who say even with the acknowledged problems caused by Katrina, the district attorney has not efficiently dealt with a huge backlog of cases."

Apparently, Jordan brought along an aide, Leatrice Dupre, to be his surrogate mother and bail him out of tough questions. She stepped in front of the camera to end the interview when Jordan started getting insolent.

ABC Nightline video and story.

How would Jordan's childish behavior play out in a courtroom?
Judge: Mr. Jordan, your witness.

Jordan: Don't tell me how to do my job. I'm doing my job and I have the evidence to support it. That's stupid! I'm taking care of my responsibility. This is ignorance and stupidity on the part of people who don't know how our system works. I'm leaving. This trial is over!

Jordan later explained to The Times-Picayune:
"I was outraged," he said. "This reporter, the crux of his argument was that the DA's office is not prosecuting cases, or only a couple since the storm, and he didn't seem to understand we need a courthouse or courtrooms to prosecute a case."

Sooo ... Eddie -- why wouldn't you use the opportunity on national television to explain your needs, and make an appeal before a national audience to have them addressed?

Oh ... right! I forgot. That might lead to questions about how you owe citizens $3.5 million.

By the way, since you say you can't do your job without more courtroom space, do you think that $3.5 million might help clean up the damaged court building, or might be used to rent out rooms at a hotel to hold court?

Do you believe in the tooth fairy?

G Bitch -- The Meaning of "Kafkaesque," NOLA Style

Adrastos -- Part of the Machine: Bah, Homburg on Nightline

Jordan was interviewed this morning on WWL by ... "aaah" .... Bob .... "aaah" ... Del Giorno and Monica Pierre. They asked "gimme" questions which only served to aggrandize Jordan, validating Jordan's behavior by reserving until the very end of the interview a quip about how Brian Ross "didn't do his homework." Jordan celebrated a 70 percent prosecution rate in juried trials despite problems caused by Hurricane Katrina, saying that his office has moved over 300 cases through the system since the storm. I would have asked how those figures compare to pre-Katrina cases: 1) What was the rate that cases moved through the court system pre-Katrina; 2) What was the prosecution rate pre-Katrina; and 3) What kinds of cases was he talking about, e.g., urinating in the streets and marijuana possession, or murder? Nyaah -- WWL is the all-Saints-all-the-time station again.

Finally, this may be the quote of the week. Judge Arthur Hunter:
"The entire criminal justice infrastructure in New Orleans is being held together with spit and tape, and it is just a matter of time before the system collapses."

Tags: | | | | | | | Katrina Dissidents | Failure Is Not An Option | Katrina One Year Anniversary | Eddie Jordan

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

New Orleans, 1 A.K.

The alarm on the cell phone I never had before Hurricane Katrina went off this morning at 5:15. There are so many things that are going through my head today, I don't even know where to go with this. Every time I touch that phone, I'm reminded that it's an artifact of Hurricane Katrina -- of the need to communicate with people in new ways from the diaspora. A lot of us carry around Katrina phones, but that's a petty observation.

So many things were different then. I was married and had a house note. Today, I'm divorced and I'm a renter again.

Should I recite facts? Bill Quigley, the Brookings Institution, and others have already done it so well, and besides, the facts don't even begin to tell the story of each and every one of hundreds of thousands of lives that were devastated and transformed forever, by Hurricane Katrina, by levees that failed, and by government negligence and incompetence at every level -- but especially at the executive level in Washington.

That negligence and incompetence of the White House continues today, exacerbating a continuously unfolding tragedy. WWL's Garland Robinette said last week that 300,000 businesses in Louisiana are failing. Meanwhile, The Times-Picayune is reporting today that the SBA had dispersed through August 18th a mere $174.9 million of $1.26 billion in approved SBA loans -- a year after those loans were needed!

Yes, the unmentionable person is in town today. Velvet_rut suggested that the press should deliberately not report his activities -- that news camera operators should protest his patronizing photo op day by filming each other instead.

As I started moving around the house this morning, I was thinking about all of the people who, one year ago, would in the course of hours be lost in the blast of the levees exploding.

Yes, notwithstanding arguments I've made previously, I'm asserting here in stronger language than I've used before that the levees were blown -- not with dynamite, but with water -- blasted apart by years of criminal incompetence and negligence at all levels of government, but the real blame can be laid at the feet of the Corps of Engineers.

Other people who survived the initial torrent would in a matter of hours be frantically sloshing around the insides of their homes as the floodwaters raced to claim them. They would gather their loved ones and try to escape any way they could. Many made it into their attics. Over a thousand people would not.

Hundreds of thousands are still suffering one of the greatest tragedies to strike this nation -- and it's a tragedy that could have been avoided. It's a tragedy that we have perpetrated upon ourselves. All of us can be blamed for this tragedy which took decades to unfold. We as citizens (not just here in New Orleans) failed to exercise our duty to be vigilant of the agencies that serve our needs.

I don't know what else to say. I'm still in as much a state of confusion about how to interpret what has happened, and what is still happening, as I was a year ago watching it from a safe distance on television (once the power came back on).

That's when I started losing it. That's when I started spending all day watching television coverage, devouring town hall forums, looking for flood maps, worrying about my job and so much more.

I'm worried today that others are still feeling what I was feeling in that first couple of weeks after the storm -- unemployed, homeless, displaced far away from family and friends, in places they wound up living in not by choice, but out of desperation.

Today, writing this post from C.C.'s on Magazine Street, I'm grateful for many things. I'm grateful that I have a job. I'm grateful for new friends -- many of whom are local bloggers. I'm grateful that hundreds of people are pouring into the coffee shop talking about mundane things. Many more like me are reflective. But this is still not the norm.

The norm for most New Orleanians -- for well over 200,000 of us -- is what Ms. Regina is going through.

Her sister, Ms. Sandra, is seen here trying to salvage what she can of her family's heirlooms. Gone are the family photos. At her feet is a soggy bank book containing all of the payments her mother made on the house that will now have to be bulldozed.

Ms. Regina and Ms. Sandra drove down from Michigan, where they've been displaced for the past year, to deal with their mother's house. No one had stepped into the house since it was flooded to the roof last year. Neither Ms. Regina nor Ms. Sandra had driven such a distance before, and they had to rent a car to do it. They were forced to make the trip because the City Council voted to require all property owners to gut their houses within a year of Hurricane Katrina, and to make the property look decent, or the city would condemn the lot and confiscate the property. Both are in their 60's. Their mother is in her 80's. And they're still thinking about rebuilding the house. What else could they do? This is their home. This is their neighborhood. All of their family and friends have lived in the same neighborhood for years -- for generations.

This was on the refrigerator removed from the house.

So much more is needed -- still. Groups like the Arabi Wrecking Krewe, which helped Ms. Regina and Ms. Sandra, continue trying to help residents put their lives back together in what may very well go down in history as the most incompetent recovery in the history of the United States.

People like firefighter Brian West, and his friend Armand "Sheik" Richardson, a Vietnam vet, are American heros, hazarding the black mold and soggy floors of destroyed homes, opening kitchen drawers still full of rancid water, climbing over mountains of furniture to salvage family treasures, gutting homes for people who can't do it themselves, with each operation, offering hope and trying to save, literally, the cultural soul of New Orleans.

Sheik has himself organized and/or participated in over 80 houseguttings. Here's what he said in an email he sent this morning:

So we go in, house after house. And the story is always the same. At least by recovering some treasured possessions we may be able to at least ease the suffering some.

Imagine knowing tens of thousands of people who are in Ms Regina's situation? That's where I am every day. ...

All I can tell you is that I am going to continue on ... and do everything I can because this is my Home Town ... and I can't think of anything more significant to do with my life.

Let's hope that we can all make a difference ... and save as many houses, and lives, as we can.

Ms. Regina called yesterday from City Hall, frustrated with the red tape that forced her to drive down to New Orleans, and asked if I knew anyone who could clear the vegetation growing around the house. She was in a hurry to get out of New Orleans, but was getting quotes from lawn services in the hundreds of dollars. I told her not to worry about it -- that if I had to do it myself, I would take care of it. She started sobbing.

It's vitally important to recognize the contributions of the thousands of volunteers who have donated resources and come down here to help people salvage their lives.

Thank you. You are the most important part of this recovery, not just for what you do to physically rehabilitate the city, but for the quiet inspiration that your efforts represent to people who are losing hope.

There's so much more to do. Please, if you read this, commit yourself to visiting New Orleans in the next year to do volunteer work, and be a part of the rebuilding of lives that are the heart and soul of this unique city.

Also, "Failure to Effectively Manage Anything," and "Fix Everything My Ass."

So often at times like this, I think of music. This morning's selection:
Arvo Part, "Cantus in Memory of Benjamin Britten."

Tags: | | | | | Bush is a moron | Impeach Bush | George W Bush | Bush | Worst President Ever | | | Katrina Dissidents | Failure Is Not An Option | Katrina One Year Anniversary

Monday, August 28, 2006

New Orleans blogs

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Sunday, August 27, 2006

It's a year later, and Ray Nagin can't fix a hole in his head

The first Rising Tide conference this weekend ended with local bloggers assisting the Arabi Wrecking Krewe in gutting 84-year-old Cora Foster's Hollygrove house which had floodwater up to the ceilings.

Ms. Foster is herself a pianist, organist and choir teacher. She was raised in a family, and in a neighborhood, that fostered musical training. Some of her uncles were Sam Dutrey (Preservation Hall clarinet player), Honore Dutrey (played with Louis Armstrong in the seminal King Oliver's Creole Jazz Band), Buddy Bolden (who's playing inspired King Oliver and Louis Armstrong), and Jelly Roll Morton (who contributed significantly to the dissemination of jazz to other cities). Here's an interesting history of New Orleans jazz written in the 1930's.

Thanks to Ray in New Orleans for organizing the housegutting project, as well as Your Right Hand Thief oyster, Morwen, Maitri, Lisa, Dangerblond, and other bloggers interested in the well being of New Orleans, for organizing and participating in the Rising Tide conference. Another special thank you to Dangerblond, the hostest with the mostest, who has an incredible collection of Lenin busts and costumes, for entertaining the contingent of bloggers with an evening social on Saturday.

I was reminded by Dangerblond's Lenin bust art collection about an idea I've had for years. Russia has been struggling to determine what it should do with the embalmed corpse of Vladimir Lenin. I have an answer: Take Lenin on a world tour of major cities like the King Tut exhibit. Charge admission. Harkening back to the Soviet Union's bread lines, people would stand in line for hours wearing bleak gray or brown trenchcoats to see the revolutionary's corpse in repose. As another blogger suggested, visitors could be given a loaf of hard bread. No, I'm not joking. I think this would be a fantastic idea. Anyone want to fund the Lenin Tour?

I arrived late to the conference, so I didn't absorb much. One thought, however, stands out. Irish Channel community activist Ed McGinness mentioned his concern that, despite a lot of frustration with the UNOP process, Concordia, and Steven "Bungler" Bingler in particular, the UNOP process is "the only game in town," and it has to move forward. He said we have to make it work somehow.

I agree. I think Bungler should be asked to step aside to make way for a planner with a bit more competence.

Quoting someone else, McGinness said that politicians are more powerless than we might think. We have to empower them to champion our issues. He was suggesting that citizens and neighborhood organizations need to identify the issues they want addressed, and give politicians the power to represent them.

While I appreciate the sentiment, some politicians are plain incompetent, or pay lip service to community issues while getting paid off to work for other interests.

At the bar after the conference, Lisa and Ashley engaged in a bit of post-Katrina blues scheming by browsing listings for New Zealand real estate. If things don't work out in New Orleans, maybe we could just transplant a new New Orleans community in NZ?

Finally, find out why Carl Brauner is glad Hurricane Katrina happened, and why Rebecca Solnit thinks New Orleans might be ready for a revolution, by listening to the latest Community Gumbo.

Ray Nagin: Every New Orleanian ought to get a turn at bitch slapping you. Shut the fuck up asshole!

Sunday music: Mahler's 8th Symphony.

8/28/06 update: Oh -- how could I forget to mention this! One of the most entertaining Rising Tide bar conversations was one where K. and Becky joked about adding porn to the whole blog/neighborhood community activist mission. Bloggers could tap members of the neighborhood for content, and finance their rebuilding from the proceeds of online purchases. Then, we could tell the federal government, "No thanks. We don't need your money." A uniquely New Orleans solution if I ever heard one!

Tags: | | | | | | | Katrina Dissidents | Failure Is Not An Option | Ray Nagin | Hurricane Katrina One Year Anniversary | UNOP | Unified New Orleans Plan | Steven Bingler | Concordia

Friday, August 25, 2006

"Katrina was devastating, but so was State Farm"

God bless 'em -- on ABC World News and 20/20 tonight (HT: Anthony):

State Farm Insurance supervisors systematically demanded that Hurricane Katrina damage reports be buried or replaced or changed so that the company would not have to pay policyholders' claims in Mississippi, two State Farm insiders tell ABC News. ...

"Katrina was devastating, but so was State Farm," says Cori Rigsby.

At one point, they say State Farm brought in a special shredding truck they believe was used to destroy key documents. ...

The sisters say they saw supervisors go to great lengths to pressure outside engineers to prepare reports concluding that damage was caused by water, not covered under State Farm policies, rather than by wind.

They say reports that concluded that damage was caused by wind, for which State Farm would have to pay, were hidden in a special file and new reports were ordered.

ABC viewer/reader comments.

ABC News -- A Tale of Three Engineering Reports

Tags: | | | | |  |  |  |  |  | Katrina Dissidents | Failure Is Not An Option | Katrina One Year Anniversary

Community Gumbo Katrina anniversary radio special

Don't miss Carl Brauner's story, and an interview with Rebecca Solnit, on the next Hurricane Katrina anniversary edition of Community Gumbo, Saturday morning, 8-10 a.m., WTUL New Orleans, 91.5 FM, or streamed at WTUL.FM.

President Bush: Category 5 storm protection and coastal restoration now!

Done any reading lately Mr. Preznit?

You might want to pack some literature for your trip on Air Force One to New Orleans, because you can't serve the memory of the dead without acknowledging how the federal government -- and your administration -- failed the citizens of New Orleans, the entire Gulf Coast, the United States as a whole, and the world. You're going to have to say something more significant to win any amount of approval from anyone.

Here are a couple of scientific research reports by NASA's Earth Observatory:

Climate change is affecting the intensity of Atlantic hurricanes, and hurricane damage will likely continue to increase because of greenhouse warming, according to a new study. It provides for the first time a direct relationship between climate change and hurricane intensity.

The melting of Greenland's ice sheet has increased dramatically in the past few years, with much of the loss occurring primarily along one shoreline potentially affecting weather in Western Europe. ... The Greenland study ... suggests that the amount of fresh water contributed from the melting of its ice sheet could add 0.56 millimeters annually to a global increase in sea levels, higher than all previously published measurements.

Don't miss this week's copy of the Gambit Weekly, where you'll find a lengthy article by Jason Berry:
"The cost of a collapsing coast is one of fundamental survival," says Mark Davis, director of the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana, a group that has worked on the issue for years in Baton Rouge. "What happened last year was also the failure of a value system. We assumed we had tamed the forces of nature. We need to understand that if we want there to be a New Orleans or a Miami or a New York 500 years from now, we can't assume they'll be there. We have to plan for them to be there. That's why the rise in sea levels and freshwater management are so extraordinary."

Katrina was a billboard for global warming. ...

"A sea-level rise of one-to-three feet," writes [Mike] Tidwell, "will, to a greater or lesser extent, impact every inch of American shoreline from the Texas coast to the Florida Keys to the Outer Banks of North Carolina to Cape Cod. The low-lying areas of San Diego and San Francisco and much of Puget Sound on the West Coast are at great risk, too.

Or how about a Mike Tidwell interview in this week's Gambit Weekly:
Look at Miami, which has very few sections three feet above sea level; look at Charleston, very similar; look at New York City, all of lower Manhattan is already at sea level; look at parts of Baltimore, Washington D.C., Annapolis, Norfolk. These are all areas that have a lot of land that is going to be at or well below sea level 100 years from now. That means we've got to adopt the New Orleans model -- we have to start building levees. Either we retreat, or we adapt. You'll have to build levees around Miami, which will become a bowl like New Orleans. You're going to have the same catastrophic risk of levee collapse, and you've got more massive hurricanes.

Or how about this research conclusion reported by the Geophysical Research Letters publication:
The Greenland ice sheet contains enough water to raise global sea levels by 15 to 20 feet. Although the entire ice sheet is unlikely to melt in this century, even a small change in the rate of melting could inundate low-lying coastal plains and add enough fresh water to the North Atlantic to change ocean circulation patterns.

You could read any of these authors, but nothing makes an argument more clearly than an image:

Here's one more picture Mr. Preznit, which, for those of us who live in New Orleans, is like staring into the barrel of a gun.

There are more dramatic images in a pre-Katrina PGR post which sum up what the dawn of the global warming era looks like Mr. Preznit. I know how little you really like to read. At least look at the pictures.

(If I have your attention Mr. Preznit, here are more PGR posts on global warming).

As The Times-Picayune editorialized recently Mr. Preznit, your visit is appreciated, but it would be better to see your "verbal commitment turned into action as we continue the arduous work of rebuilding this special place."

As accurately as anything I've written or read, Dan Baum expresses in The New Yorker what it feels like to live in New Orleans right now (HT: Lucy):
The fate of the Lower Ninth Ward and the rest of the city remains anyone’s guess. New Orleanians tend to talk about the prospects of another devastating flood in the fatalistic way that people in the fifties talked about nuclear war. They know that they are living under the ever-present threat of annihilation. They want the people in power to do all they can to prevent it. But, in the meantime, there’s nothing to do but soldier on.

I write this post, Mr. Preznit, focusing on Category 5 storm protection, coastal restoration, and global warming, to the neglect of what really are more pressing issues in the day-to-day lives of local residents.

We need help fighting insurance companies. This is a not a local issue. The same tactics that insurance companies have been using in other states to screw policyholders are being used again in Louisiana. We need federal pressure to bear down upon them, not just to do the right thing, but to simply live up to the legally-binding contracts they signed with their policyholders.

We need help with housing -- yes, still! The $10.2 billion infusion of federal cash into the Louisiana Recovery Authority Road Home plan is going to make a huge difference, but don't let it operate in a vacuum. It's going to take months for this cash to get to residents who are desperately trying to get into their homes, and in many cases still can't get SBA loans to get things moving, who are tens of thousands of dollars in debt, and in St. Tammany Parish, are now being threatened by the local government that their homes will be taken away because they're late paying their property taxes for Christ's sake!

Entergy? Why should we have to bail out a national utility company that is making record profits simply because it shelters its shareholders by setting up subsidiary operations? Kick their ass Mr. Preznit! Aren't you the energy president? Don't you have any pull?

Iraq? Your pathetic profiteering "war on terrah"? Don't get me started.

None of these day-to-day issues matter, however, if you don't commit this nation, right now, to Category 5 storm protection and coastal restoration for Louisiana.

I've said it before. I'll repeat it again for your benefit Mr. Preznit.

New Orleans is the future of America. As New Orleans goes, so goes the rest of the nation in the 21st Century.

As you consider who you are as a president and as a human being, and the positive role you could play in the future of New Orleans and the nation, just remember one thing:

Failure is not an option!

When you answer the call for Category 5 storm protection and coastal restoration, with a significant dedication of funds, I promise to stop referring to you as Mr. Preznit, monkey boy, or boneless chickenhawk, and I'll take down the Katrina boneless chicken award. Anything short of a commitment to Category 5 storm protection and coastal restoration, and you will continue to be the worst president ever!

It's up to you Mr. Preznit! Don't be a boneless chickenhawk!

Tags: | | | | | | | Bush is a moron | Impeach Bush | George W Bush | Bush | Worst President Ever | | Katrina Dissidents | Failure Is Not An Option | Katrina One Year Anniversary

Ray Ray? Is that really you, or your imposter?

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Only in post-Katrina New Orleans

I'm gathering ideas for another post. Until that comes together, I keep meaning to tell a funny story about something that could only happen in post-Katrina New Orleans.

At Saturday's Geek Dinner, Big Easy Roller Girl Smasher and I were looking for the bathroom in Loki's gutted house on Claiborne Avenue. We were told that it was in the FEMA trailer (of course) in front of the house.

Not having been given the home tour earlier in the evening, we hadn't been inside the trailer. Because we were a little disoriented by the cluster of cars, randomly-placed trailers, foliage and debris (I guess) we walked toward the first readily available trailer. I walked up the stairs and tried the door, but it was locked. I thought that was odd. I saw a shadowy figure inside the frosted window pull aside the curtain and say something incomprehensible. I kind of gestured to the person inside to let us in, but the door remained locked. That's when I turned my head to see the other FEMA trailer parked directly in front of Loki's house.


Sorry Loki's neighbors!

Only in New Orleans would people have to contend with strangers at a neighbor's party trying to get into their FEMA trailer to use the bathroom!

Tags: | | | | | | | | Katrina Dissidents | Failure Is Not An Option

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

You're on notice!

(HT: Ashley)

8/24/06: Lisa's is a must-see as well -- you have to know she's been dealing with her passive-aggressive lawyer lately to sue State Farm in order to grasp the full sense of her frustration.

Are we ready for the next 8/29 or 9/11?

What are the lessons of 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina? How should we remember their anniversaries?

Recall that there were no bullhorn moments for Bush after Hurricane Katrina.

Imagine if, instead of Bush standing on a pile of rubble with a bullhorn in his hand, he had simply flown over the smoldering wreckage of the World Trade Center in Air Force One like he did after Hurricane Katrina?

Does anyone doubt that he would have been universally trounced then as the worst president ever?

Why should it be any different given his response to Hurricane Katrina? If we had a president who wanted progress to be made here, it would happen.

Daily Kos:

The real lesson is that we're all residents of the state of Louisiana because when the next disaster hits, y'all be just as vulnerable to it as we were, even now, five years after 9/11.

So go ahead and bang the drum slowly, Republicans. Enjoy the dirge. As for the rest of us, it is time to rise up and throw the rascals out because if we don't, we're just sitting ducks, waiting for the next disaster.

See the Digby post for a graphic example of the distinct difference in Bush's reaction.

We need a real leader, not a poseur, to stand on top of a New Orleans' levee and declare that New Orleans will never flood again.

We need a real president, not a pretender, to stand before the world and proclaim that New Orleans is a vital economic and cultural engine of the United States which deserves to be rebuilt, and then back up that proclamation with real and tangible progress.

We need a real commander, not a stooge, to stand up for New Orleans by committing to a bold new infrastructure initiative to build Category 5 storm protection which will be the envy of the world, and to restore Louisiana's critical coastal marshes.

We need a true compassionate conservative, not a boneless chickenhawk, to defend future generations from new environmental threats which may be introduced to other cities in this, the dawn of a global warming era.

Failure is not an option!

Tags: | | | | | | Bush is a moron | Impeach Bush | George W Bush | Bush | Worst President Ever | | Katrina Dissidents | Failure Is Not An Option

Councilwoman Stacy Head town hall meeting

What: Councilwoman Stacy Head’s Town Hall meeting
When: Wed., August 23rd, 6-7:30 pm
Where: Sophie Wright School, 1426 Napoleon Ave.
Who: Councilwoman Stacy Head will be joined by the following:

  • Colonel Terry Ebbert of the Homeland Security & Public Safety office
  • The quality of life officers from the 2nd and 6th District Police Stations
  • Veronica White of the Sanitation Department
  • Representatives from the Councilmembers at-Large offices
  • Sandra Gunner, Director of Intergovernmental Relations and Community Affairs

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Huh? What did the enemy do?

The press was buzzing yesterday with geedubya's aggressive comments at a press conference in the White House on the Hezbollah-Israeli conflict.

Less well-reported was monkeyboy's meltdown in front of the cameras at a Camp David press conference on Friday. Rachel Maddow covered this on Air America Radio yesterday. I couldn't believe what I was hearing. Even for monkeyboy, this was a doozie.

Did the batteries in his earpiece die? Did the fresh air get to him, or was it "the fresh cut grass" ;-)

The White House Web site is a little more kind to emperor boneless chickenhawk. But I'm not:

We ... uh ... I made my position clear ... about this war on terrah. I ... uh ... and by the way, the enemy made their position clear ... yet again, when they ... when ... wuhwuhwuhwuh ... when ... um ... (smack lips) ... when we're able to ... (sigh) ... stop 'em ... so.

Here's the audio of Bush's meltdown in front of the cameras (campdavid_060818.mp3, 183 kb).

Here's the same audio, after parsing out any meaningful clusters of two or more words, and leaving behind the spaces in between (campdavid_060818_parsed.mp3, 128 kb).

Dude! Eat some munchies and take a nap. You'll feel better when you wake up.

Tags: | | | | | | Bush is a moron | Impeach Bush | George W Bush | Bush | Worst President Ever | Katrina Dissidents | Failure Is Not An Option

Can't update blogger

Blogger sucks.

It might be time to change.

"No more dots"

Most will have already seen this Gambit review of recently-published books authored by Jed Horne, Ivor van Heerden, Mark Schleifstein, and others, but a recent PGR comment caused me to revisit the review, where the following nugget stayed with me.

The Dutch rebuilt better and stronger after devastating 1953 floods, and Kobe residents rebuilt after the devastating 1995 earthquake. Will New Orleanians be able to rebuild?

Reviewer Jason Berry offered this concern:

Cities can and do recover if they have the will and the means to achieve it. Do New Orleanians have the will? There is so little outrage toward Nagin as to suggest a collective numbness. Absent a galvanizing mayor, getting Congressional support for a state-of-the-art hurricane-defense system will be somewhat difficult.

We New Orleans bloggers have for months and years been doing what we can to get the message out about Category 5 storm protection and coastal restoration, and the astounding incompetence of See Ray Nagin, but if no one reads what we write, does it matter?

I'm disappointed to see local press organizations starting to fall back into their pre-Katrina mediocrity. WWL Radio, for example, appears to have fallen back into the Flush Limbaugh-sports-and-crime format.

I saw the incredible disappearing mayor (or his skull-buffed imposter) talking about housing on WWL TV yesterday. A video clip showed the poseur mayor saying that he thought the supply of housing stock would soon catch up with the demand -- to which any person with a high school education would have asked: "Okay Mr. Mayor. What exactly is the current housing supply and demand, and when precisely do you think supply will catch up with demand?" But no, the reporter wrapped up his tidy little story without as much as the spark of a thought about the most obvious question, letting the incompetent Ray Ray off the hook once again.

As for planning the rebuilding of neighborhoods (where again, the incredible disappearing mayor has been conspicuously absent), I'd like to strongly recommend Lucy's last New Orleans post (though I hope she'll be back to offer more of her sharp insights in the future at Mapping Lucy). Lucy offered some incredibly-witty observations on the Unified New Orleans Plan process:
“No more dots” he kept saying, referring to the little stickers that he has put on endless maps at endless meetings to indicate where a school or firestation might go. At a UNOP meeting, he caused a stir by telling the facilitator that he could do her job, “I can get up there and ask you what you want and write it down on a list”. ...

The House of Dance and Feathers is a symbol of hope, a catalyst for action and a means to nurture one of New Orleans most unique cultures, the Mardi Gras Indians. But could it have ever materialised within the context of the city-led planning process? I doubt it. ...

I thought of those slides of empty meetings, whiteboards and sharpies, and decided the official planners could do with spending half an hour at St Augustine and the House of Dance and Feathers if they need some new ideas about what really motivates the citizens of New Orleans to ‘participate’.

Michael Homan can explain to you what those annoying little red dots are.

If you decided not to read Lucy's post, here's another reason to visit -- she posted a new pen-and-ink illustration, this one portraying the the House of Dance and Feathers. You won't be disappointed.

Thank you Lucy for spending time in our city, for helping to create a model for rebirth, and for celebrating the true culture of New Orleans!

Tags: | | | | | | | | | | Katrina Dissidents | Failure Is Not An Option

Sunday, August 20, 2006

"She can't let go of that mess"

Too bad you have a such a soft spot for Hurricane Katrina victims Tara. Life would be so much easier if you didn't give a damn, wouldn't it?

Well, from all of us in New Orleans to all of you, like Tara, who continue to care, let me just say, thank you!

For all the rest of you, secession is not out of the question before the rest of the nation goes to hell. We are Katrina dissidents. We learned the hard way that failure is not an option. Sinn Fein!

Speaking of failures, how about the preznit?

New Orleans is another failure which he has thus far failed to turn around. As we approach the ONE YEAR ANNIVERSARY of Hurricane Katrina, can anyone remember the last time monkey boy ever mentioned New Orleans?

Maybe it was back in April when he draped his lazy arm on the diminutive 74-year-old Lower Ninth Ward resident Ethel Williams, telling her in his faux Crawford drawl that she'd get back into her house using his brilliant strategy of ... uh ... letting other people come up with a plan (HT: G Bitch).

We've got a strategy to help the good folks down here rebuild. Part of it has to do with funding; part of it has to do with housing; and a lot of it has to do with encouraging volunteers from around the United States to come down and help people like Ms. Williams.

Maybe the preznit didn't think Ms. Williams was one of the "good people," because this is what her house looks like now:

Hammer: $12.99.

Nails: $2.49.

Trip on Air Force One to New Orleans: Classified.

Photo op for the worst president ever? Priceless.

There are some things money can't buy -- like brains, the truth, and the White House.

Oh, but why stop with the preznit. It seems that the incredible disappearing mayor, See Ray Nagin, popped up in Indianapolis for more race-baiting to draw attention away from his own unbelievable incompetence. Well, before he ducks his shiny head again, I'm going to take a swat at him.

Instead of dealing with the range of issues critical for the City of New Orleans to recover and rebuild, Ray Ray is off on the tour circuit again, distracting people from his own incompetence, and passing up the opportunity to present more pressing messages to the nation on the eve of the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, like ... CATEGORY 5 STORM PROTECTION AND COASTAL RESTORATION!
"The tragedy of Katrina was awful. It exposed the soft underbelly of America as it relates to dealing with race and class. And I, to this day, believe that if that would have happened in Orange County, California, if that would have happened in South Beach, Miami, it would have been a different response," Nagin said. ...

"We are being strangled, and they're using the money to set local policies to try to take control of the city to do things that they had in mind all along, and that's to shrink the footprint, get a bunch of developers in the city, and try to do things in a different way," Nagin said.

It looks like Ray Ray put his horse's ass in his mouth again (a feat made all the more difficult when his head is perpetually inside his ass).

It might be hard to see with your head between your legs, Ray Ray, but the soft underbelly of America is girdled with shysters like you who pander to racial inequalities to get elected and maintain power while shafting the very people you pander to.

Hey Ray Ray ... yeah man, I just looked at your picture, and it looks like you're still black. I hate to point that out, man, but hey man, you are the man in charge in New Orleans. Do you think, man, that as a black man, you might raise your voice now and again for the very people you say are being left out of the recovery by the federal government. Like, hey man, what about public housing residents, man. Do you think you might say something about opening up that housing now so that at least they could get back into the city? And hey man, what about your statements that people should use their best judgment when deciding whether or not to rebuild in "low-lying" areas? Is that what you mean when you criticize the federal government for not helping out more? Why would it, when you're telling people not to rebuild in those areas?

Where, Mr. Poseur, is your plan to rebuild New Orleans? Where, Mr. Charlatan, is your strategy to get schools back up and running when they're still scrambling to rebuild, and when they can't find enough teachers? Where, Mr. Imposter, is your plan to address the incompetence of the D.A.'s office? Where, Mr. Pretender, is your concern for the well-being of firefighters who earn less than McDonald's workers, whose equipment is in terrible shape since Hurricane Katrina, who operate with disastrously-low water pressure due to the damaged water system, and for residents, who now live with the fear of fire? When, Mr. Fraud, were you thinking you might publish a detailed report on the fiscal situation of the city? What, Mr. Imitator, did you think you would do to support the unified planning process with concrete action -- like getting rid of Steven Bungler and Concordia? With all that needs to be done in this broken city, do you really have time, Mr. Fake, for email flames and oreo cookie stunts?

Oh when will the nonsense end! Please!

For some people, it already has. The Earth Policy Institute is calling the exodus of victims from the Gulf Coast the first example of "climate refugees" in the dawn of the global warming era. Over a million people scattered to other areas ahead of Hurricane Katrina, and afterwards. Many won't return. In New Orleans, the stream of returning victims has slowed to a trickle. Among 375,000 residents of southeast Louisiana and the Mississippi Gulf Coast who haven't returned, at least 250,000 have established new residences elsewhere. (8/21/06 update: I'm convinced that we're experiencing the effects of global warming now, and that it may have caused the strengthening of Hurricane Katrina. But it's also true, as Mark pointed out in the comments below, that "the displaced must be laid at the foot of the White House, the Corps of Engineers and FEMA. They have become not the evacuees but the displaced not through climate change, but by fiat of a government that does not care." Wouldn't it be ironic, though, if the Bush administration were forced to acknowledge global warming to direct attention away from its own failure to manage the Hurricane Katrina disaster.)

In other matters, don't you wish the criminal justice system stopped picking on non-violent offenders, and focused its resources instead on the really bad people? Here's a solution:
As a clinician I don't remember ever meeting an addicted person who wanted to be addicted or who expected that compulsive, uncontrollable or even criminal behavior would emerge when he or she started taking drugs. Providing drug-abusing offenders with comprehensive treatment saves lives and protects communities.

Finally, don't forget to sue your insurance company! On Saturday, WTUL's Community Gumbo featured a repeat of last week's program on local residents fighting their insurance companies to settle their claims for Hurricane Katrina and Rita property damage.

While we struggle through the daily Katrina slog, at least we still have each other for support!

Failure is not an option!

Sunday music:

Tags: | | | | | | Bush is a moron | Impeach Bush | George W Bush | Bush | Worst President Ever | | | | | | | | | | Katrina Dissidents | Failure Is Not An Option

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Anyone have anything to say about Spike Lee's Katrina movie?

Is anyone going to say something about Spike Lee's movie, "When the Levees Broke"?

I know a few local bloggers opted out of the Arena premiere, having other obligations to tend to. Same here -- so I'm reluctant to comment.

Because I'm extremely curious, I looked for what I could find in The Times-Picayune today and

With the caveat that I haven't seen the movie, from what I can gather, in short, it appears that the movie title should have been, "When the Levees Broke in the Lower Ninth Ward."

Both Dave Walker and Stephanie Grace are a little too diplomatic for my tastes, but then I wonder what I would say if I could say it to Spike Lee in person (I'd like to have the opportunity).

Stephanie Grace summed up Lee's failing very obliquely:

Lee treats local public officials like he treats everyone else. He lets them speak at length and with heart-on-the-sleeve passion, and he doesn't question them -- even when he should.

I don't want to go down this road, but I have to -- we all have to if we're truly going to address what happened during Hurricane Katrina, what continues to happen, and in fact, what happened before Hurricane Katrina.

Racism? Sure, I'll more than allow that the experience of black New Orleanians during Hurricane Katrina has to be viewed within a broader context of the disenfranchisement of poor blacks from the prosperity of the greater society. But was racism the cause for the criminal negligence Americans watched unfold in that horrifying week after Hurricane Katrina, as though they were witnessing something that only happens in the poorest countries? We ought to be able to have a civil discussion about it.

I don't think so -- I don't think what happened in that first week was racism. It was, plain and simple, criminal negligence. You see, the real story to be told, which Spike Lee is missing, is how -- not just how the white upper class exploits poor blacks -- but how the black upper class exploits poor blacks too. What we've seen in the planning process -- or the lack of a planning process -- since Hurricane Katrina might be called racism, but even there, I'll argue against it.

Why? Because, presumably, the mayor is in charge. He's the highest political leader in the city, and he's black. The black community is also well-represented on the City Council. Why would they want to deny the black community a humane evacuation strategy and a smooth recovery?

The answer, I believe, is political opportunism -- playing the racial card for facile access to, and maintenance of, political power for personal fortune.

I felt like I ought to use the adjective "poor" before every reference to neglected blacks described in this post. Why? Because that really is the key. There is nothing, for example, by way of comparison, that Spike Lee has been disenfranchised from having or accomplishing in his successful career. Oh sure, he'll probably tell you that his barriers to entry into film-making were higher than for whites, but what can't he have now that all but a tiny sliver of people at the top can enjoy -- wealth, access to power, a prominent voice in society?

Can Spike Lee be faulted, then, for his narrow perspective on Hurricane Katrina?

Were I able to talk to him about it, I'd say yes. He chose to only present the experience of a few thousand black residents of the Lower Ninth Ward, when flooding impacted hundreds of thousands of blacks, whites, Hispanics, and Asians in every area of the city. Their stories are no less tragic. Lee also skimmed the surface for the easy examples of black heroism, and white racism, or neglect of blacks. Nagin is the hero, a title earned on a single night on the airwaves hollering at officials in Washington to get off their asses. But what of Nagin's incompetence and neglect in the months before Hurricane Katrina, when he could have instituted an evacuation plan, and in the months following, when he could have demonstrated his support for poor black New Orleanians by actively engaging them in a planning process to rebuild their neighborhoods instead of leaving them to the vagaries of market forces.

Were the levees blown? Lee doesn't offer strong evidence that they weren't, leaving open the allegation that they were. This is possibly the wildest of legends that needs to be hit hard and buried for good. It's easy to find detractors if one looks for them. For example, I talked to an engineer on site in the Lower Ninth Ward who's a Marine demolitions expert. He said that the force of water breaching the sheetpiling would have made a horrific sound -- like an explosion -- but that if the levee wall were dynamited, there would have been millions of pieces of sheetpile shards scattered around the area. Are there? Well, of course there aren't, because the levees weren't blown.

The real story is actually far more insidious.

I was talking to the_velvet_rut about this months ago. In a way, she suggested that it might be fair to suggest that the levees were blown -- not instantaneously in one event, but rather, in a long, slow process of neglect and incompetence. But that neglect hurt whites just as much as it did blacks and everyone else in between. It's a story about what happened when the Reagan administration called government "the problem," and thus began a twenty-year dismantlement of vital programs -- like Corps of Engineers levee projects. It's a story about institutional failure within the Corps of Engineers. It's a story about administrators cutting corners to keep projects within budget rather than listening to the scientists who know better. It's an ongoing story about a president who would rather see New Orleans die than commit now to a bold project to protect the city from ever flooding again with Category 5 storm protection and wetlands renewal to be the envy of the world.

If anything, the mainstream media overemphasized the experience of people in the Lower Ninth Ward to the exclusion of everyone, and everywhere else. Is that racism? Well, in a way, it is -- it's probably racism expressed as pity.

Were I to do an objective documentary about Hurricane Katrina, I would be grossly misrepresenting an understanding of the event by focusing on only one race -- or one geographic area. A vast territory, 80 percent of New Orleans, and over 300,000 people were impacted by flooding directly when the levees failed.

No, I'm not sure I want to see Spike Lee's documentary anymore. I think I've already seen it, and those of us who are intimately living with, and dealing with, the real-life results of the levees breaking, are seeking true answers to why it happened, and how to prevent it in the future.

From what people whose opinions I respect say they've seen in the first two hours of Spike Lee's film, he isn't helping, he's hurting that process.

8/18/06 update:
Read the comments for an ongoing discussion. As difficult as it may be for me to do, by my own admission, and after an effective persuasive argument by "anonymous," I can't honestly carry this conversation forward any further without seeing the movie myself.


Blogging New Orleans -- Why I won't see Spike's movie, but you should

Maitri's VatulBlog -- Avoidance of Requiem Rodeo

SpasticRobot -- When the Levees Broke

Newsweek -- Spike's Katrina

Tags: | | | | |  | Bush is a moron | Impeach Bush | George W Bush | Bush | Worst President Ever | Spike Lee | When the Levees Broke | Katrina Dissidents | Failure Is Not An Option

Pain perdu

U.S. Marshalls last week captured an escaped child rapist who was found hiding amidst Katrina contract workers. I've said it before. I don't mean to create hysteria, but we need to be aware of the additional danger that we may be exposing ourselves to, and our children to, when we allow contractors into the city who pay cash and don't investigate the backgrounds of the people they hire. It's the perfect place for violent criminals to hide out. Any wonder why drug activity is up? Have you been seeing, as have I, the open deals on the street. There's little fear of the criminal justice system.

I'll say once again, the negligent incompetence of the poseur who calls himself "sheriff," Marlin Gusman -- the right hand that washed Marc Morial's filthy left -- needs to be investigated and recalled. Despite his own claims of bravery, wading into floodwaters to perform rescues, his own deputies are saying, "that man didn't touch the water."


Shreveport Times -- Emily Metzgar, "Orleans Parish Jail fiasco begs for investigation"

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Wednesday, August 16, 2006


Run, don't walk, to the latest Vanity Fair, where you'll discover (if you didn't already know) that Michael Chertoff is really Nosferatu!

Go! Click below! Click it! CLICK IT! CLICK IT NOW!!!

Oh my God! That is hilarious! Thanks Maitri!

I'm looking forward to a morpholution which shows that Dick Cheney is really Beelzebub, Mephistopheles, Satan, the Anti-Christ.


Yesterday, the press was calling this the "super secret" National Counterterrorism Center. Would it be too much to ask to keep the hyperbolic descriptions to DC Comics pages?


God damn those sanctimonious murderers all to hell!

Let's deny them the power to kill any more innocents in their greedy pursuit of more profit.

Let's remember that they don't put themselves or their children in harm's way. It's we who get sent to war, and our children who get sent to war. The boneless chickenhawks running our country into the ground don't fight -- all they have to do is profit from war.

How do they do this? By keeping the nation terrorized.

Look at what Bush had to say about his success at fighting his "war on terrah." Oh sure, the country is safer, but you should still be afraid, very afraid:

America is safer than it has been. But it's not yet safe. The enemy has got an advantage when it comes to attacking our homeland - they've got to be right one time, and we've got to be right a hundred percent of the time to protect the American people.

And why should you still be afraid? Because the goal of the Bush administration is not to actually fight terrorism as it should be fought.

Fighting terrorism in a sincere way means not just terrorizing your own population with ridiculous color-coded alerts, and bringing airports to a halt looking for ammonia bombs in baby's formula while cargo loaded underneath those planes goes uninspected, ports and chemical plants go unprotected, and terrorism money gets spent on ridiculous hideouts and is doled out as pork to the least worthy places in middle America.

Fighting terrorism means doing what the British are doing. Deploying resources in the same way as for a police action, using dialog, back channel communications, training more translators and experts in the culture and manners of targeted suspects, placement of spies on the inside of organizations, and quiet, patient, analysis to determine what terrorist activities are being planned and the precise moment to spring a trap to net the most plotters. It's basically a classic police investigative function.

No, instead, the Bush administration goes from country to country breaking things, and killing more innocent people, creating more terrorists rather than eliminating them.

Uh ... anyone remember Saddam Hussein ... er, I mean, Osama bin Laden -- the real guy who hit us on 9/11? Anyone wonder if we got out money's worth for all the money we sent to Pakistan, including F-16 fighter jets? Anyone wonder why we can't even talk to the Pakistani scientist A.Q. Khan about who he gave nuclear secrets to?

It's time for a change.

Here's Arundhati Roy, from an August 2004 speech, "Seize the Time!"
The U.S. government has already displayed in no uncertain terms the range and extent of its capability for paranoid aggression. In human psychology, paranoid aggression is usually an indicator of nervous insecurity. It could be argued that it's no different in the case of the psychology of nations. Empire is paranoid because it has a soft underbelly. Its homeland may be defended by border patrols and nuclear weapons, but its economy is strung out across the globe. Its economic outposts are exposed and vulnerable. ...

The battle to reclaim democracy is going to be a difficult one. Our freedoms were not granted to us by any government. They were wrested from them by us. And once we surrender them, the battle to retrieve them is called a revolution. It is a battle that must range across continents and countries. It must not acknowledge national boundaries, but if it is to succeed, it has to begin here. In America. The only institution more powerful than the U.S. government is American civil society. The rest of us are subjects of slave nations. We are by no means powerless, but you have the power of proximity. You have access to the imperial palace and the emperor's chambers. Empire's conquests are being carried out in your name, and you have the right to refuse. You can refuse to fight. Refuse to move those missiles from the warehouse to the dock.

Refuse to wave that flag. Refuse the victory parade.

You have a rich tradition of resistance. You need only read Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States to remind yourself of this. Hundreds of thousands of you have survived the relentless propaganda you've been subjected to, and are actively fighting your own government. In the ultra-patriotic climate that prevails in the United States, that's as brave as any Iraqi or Afghan or Palestinian fighting for his or her homeland.

If you join the battle not in your hundreds of thousands, but in your millions, you will be greeted joyously by the rest of the world. And you will see how beautiful it is to be gentle instead of brutal, safe instead of scared. Befriended instead of isolated. Loved instead of hated.

I hate to disagree with your president. Yours is by no means a great nation. But you could be a great people.

History is giving you the chance. Seize the time.

The revolution begins right here, on this piece of sinking land which proudly waves the stars and stripes side-by-side with the fleur de lis. No one knows better how our government has failed us, and how we have failed ourselves. We are America. We are the future. Stake your claim on what the future will be. Will our freedoms perish, along with our planet? Or will be bravely confront the challenges we face, for the improvement of our nation, for justice around the world, and for peaceful progress?

It's up to you.


Failure is not an option!

This post was updated 8/16/06, 10:07 p.m.

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Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Failure is not an option

Mr. Melpomene was inspiring in a recent post (not to be confused with "conspiring," although some 4th Reich wingnuts might like to bring the war home by creating strawmen among Katrina dissidents):

The President, the ACOE, Sugar Ray, Maw Maw Blanco and FEMA should be devising world-class levees, cutting the grass, running streetcars, policing and then prosecuting bad guys, fixing water lines, running electric lines, setting up high-tech infrastructure. The basics. Not sexy.

The levee failure has made me into a Hobbesian on government. Don't talk to me about grand visions of beauty and unity coming out of government. Me and my artist friends, and the Black and Gold Bike Patrol, and my church parish will take care of beauty and unity. You in government? All you need to do is prevent my life from being "solitary, poore, nasty, brutish, and short." And the way you do that is by fixing the streets, making existing public spaces look reasonably acceptable, and so on.

Sugar Ray and his peeps all want to show us how much Smarter Than We They Are. We don't want that (and we know it's not true anyway).

da po' boy was also inspiring, drawing upon an article printed in The Houston Chronicle about 94-year-old Willie Lee Barnes, who's tenaciously gutting her Lower Ninth Ward house:
"I'm like bad grass. Because it never dies. You gotta pull it up and even though you do, it still grows back. I don't care how hard something looks, I'm still going to try."

To which da po' boy responded:
New Orleans is a city of bad grass. Because it never dies. ...

This ain’t no recovery mission. This is a rescue mission. New Orleans is still alive, baby.

Because it never dies.

These two posts led me into my own inspiration, responding to an appearance on Saturday by The Times-Picayune writer Chris Rose on Radio Nation, hosted by Arnie Arnison (Air America Radio, 1350 AM in New Orleans).

Chris never had much to say that interested me before Hurricane Katrina, and he's lately started to fall back into his self-indulgent drivel again (am I being too hard on him?).

So it was that, listening to the interview, I started to get frustrated. When asked what bothers him most about Hurricane Katrina, Rose answered "the looting." Now, I understand what he meant, but I wouldn't choose looting as the thing that bothers me most. I'll explain ... read on.

I like Chris. I say hi to him when I see him around town. He's the kind of guy you could have a very pleasant, slow, amusing conversation with over a beer. When he wrote about sitting on the porch communing with his neighbors and sharing their grief at living in a broken city, we were all sitting on that porch with him. Everyone understood, because sitting on porches talking to neighbors is something we do in New Orleans, and we were all feeling the same grief.

Now, it's not just grief people are feeling, it's despair, and I'm not sure Chris gets it anymore. Has he adjusted to the relatively comfortable life in the isle of denial? Or is he just a little too far into a cozy middle-aged yuppie lifestyle to see the frustration of the daily Katrina slog that others continue to struggle with?

I know what Chris meant about the looting thing. At first I thought he meant exclusively the looting of stores in the first week. Yeah, that was disappointing, but it wasn't all stereos and plasma TV's being looted. A lot of it was food and drinks people thought they'd need to survive. Anyway, what Chris was really referring to was the looting of displaced people's homes. I agree -- what a deplorable and opportunistic violation of personal space! It destroys your belief in humanity. It was, in fact, other than flood and fire, the thing I worried about most before I was able to get back to New Orleans. I think looters should be put in stocks in Jackson Square, tarred and feathered, and not shot, but instead thrown into the Mississippi, stocks and all, after citizens are finished torturing them.

The looting is disturbing enough. But the thing that really gets to me is the ongoing criminal neglect by the federal government. There are so many things that could be fixed if we only had a president who cared. No, the boneless chickenhawk may not be looting houses, but he sure ain't doing much to help. Can anyone recall the last time that FYYFF said anything about New Orleans?

Does anyone anywhere else in the country care about what happened to New Orleans after the first week's disaster? The disaster is still unfolding -- in fact, aside from the deaths that occurred when the (federal government's) levee walls so miserably failed, the tragedy now unfolding is the most tragic thing to happen since Hurricane Katrina -- although it may not play as well for the cameras. People getting literally robbed in clear daylight using legal obfuscation and collusion with engineering firms that write reports favoring the insurance companies. Breadwinners losing their jobs, families being broken up, neighborhoods falling apart. Homes destroyed and no hope of paying to fix them. Desperation and suicide.

Where is the President of the United States when people are being screwed by their insurance companies? Don't policyholders who paid their premiums have as many rights as insurance company shareholders?

Chris Rose had nothing to say about people getting f**ked by their insurance companies.

At the end of the interview, though, Chris redeemed himself.

He talked about how inspiring it is to see the incredible resilience of residents gutting their homes themselves, and drawing up plans to rebuild their neighborhoods despite a complete void of leadership.

Then, just before he ran out of time, he finally spoke the words that we're all trying to shout to the rest of the nation: Category 5 storm protection and coastal restoration.

He said the fact that we're still talking about fixing the same fast-moving Category 3 levees is not just disgraceful, and a drag on the recovery, but it doesn't represent the greatness of the United States of America.

How is this acceptable in the most powerful nation on Earth? How is it that one of the world's most treasured cultural jewels was laid to waste and nothing is being done to keep it from happening again?

New Orleans can be saved!

We can rebuild the coastline and make the nation's largest expanse of wetlands healthy again.

We can build storm protection that will keep New Orleans dry in the event of a storm.

All that's lacking is the will to do it.

When did mediocre engineering replace the world class standards that once sent men to the moon?

We can fix this problem. We have to refocus our money, our energy, and our talent on recreating the image our forefathers had of a nation of progress and excellence. We have to save New Orleans, not just for the sake of New Orleans and her citizens, but to reclaim our national heritage for generations to come.

Will the history books say that our generation let New Orleans die?

We're strong and resilient here in New Orleans. We're like weeds. We just keep coming back. The city will survive in one form or another, but what will history books say about the rest of the nation and its response to this disaster?

What will history books say about what happened to the remaining 300,000 residents who haven't returned to their homes -- who are starting to give up -- who are rebuilding new lives elsewhere?

Will the history books say that the levees weren't just fixed, but built to a standard respected around the world?

What will the history books say about this incredible turning point in Earth's history, when not just New Orleans, but New York and every other coastal city is threatened with rising ocean levels?

I have an answer.

I think this ought to be the message we take to the nation as we approach the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.

Failure is not an option!

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