September 04, 2005

Give Them Shelter

Consider giving to Habitat for Humanity, or volunteer to help build portions of pre-made homes to be shipped in pieces for reassembly where they're needed. Once everyone is fed, clothed and set up in temporary shelters, it's important to make sure that the situation is really temporary. We all know what the Gaza Strip semi-permanent refugee camps are like and I don't think any of us want to try that experiment here in America.

Anntichrist Coulter over at Blondesense is organizing direct food aid to people staying in shelters. Here's the information if you can help out now.

Meteorologists are concerned that the Gulf of Mexico could be due for as many as six more category 3 hurricanes before the season ends in November. Some of those storms may touch land in the US, and the meteorologists quoted in the article point out that the season hasn't even peaked yet. They expect a year of record activity.

The miserably incompetent Bush administration refused numerous offers of aid from around the country and around the world in the first days after Katrina hit, including the ready and waiting US Northern Command.

From many sources, Laura Rozen points out a German news report about the fake open air food distribution center that Bush made a show of visiting and that was torn down as soon as he left.

All helicopter flights over New Orleans were grounded for the duration of Bush's photo op drive by. I wonder if anyone died waiting for a grounded search and rescue crew that might have gotten there a little bit earlier.

No clue at all: the comic perpspective.

Don't piss off the meteorologists, they can talk back.

Kid Oakland talks about the racist structure of poverty in America and the enduring legacy of segregation and animosity.

Cindy Sheehan has taken her bus on the road and brought all the leftover supplies from Camp Casey to aid the disaster victims in Covington, LA.

FEMA just yesterday allowed 500 civilian boats into New Orleans to aid with the search and rescue efforts. The aid had been on offer for two days before FEMA allowed the five mile convoy of ready, willing and able volunteers to go ahead and help.

The GOP is still obsessed with tax cuts.

Bush found an enemy and defeated it. Unfortunately, that enemy was FEMA.

New Orleans has been getting a lot of press and rightly so, but inland residents are still waiting for food and water, as well. The Red Cross estimates that somewhere around 360,000 people are in their sphere of influence, many of them have lost everything but the clothes on their backs, have gotten separated from their families and don't know where they might be evacuated to. This article breaks down the refugee estimates by state.

Dysentery and diarrhea have broken out near a shelter in Mississippi. Expect to hear about more of this sort of thing, it's frankly a miracle that survivors aren't already being wracked with epidemic disease. There's a reason indoor plumbing is so popular and it's not just because it's easier on the nose.

The Superdome and Convention Center have been evacuated, though no one is really sure how many more people are still in the city. Over 40,000 have been evacuated by now of the 60-80,000 that were thought to still be there a couple days ago. I'm sure the people who witnessed rapes and killings in these facilities are glad to see the back of them.

Anne Rice writes in the New York Times about what it means to lose New Orleans.

Three prominent columnists talk about the political fallout from Katrina.

"Combat operations" underway in New Orleans.

Talk Left recommends these pictures from the disaster area and shows us the face of this tragedy.

We can't afford the Marie Antoinette presidency any more. We can no longer afford a ruling political party that wants to drown our government in a bathtub. We can no longer afford 'compassionate conservatism'. We can no longer afford to be governed by diddlers.

It's almost too bad we can't borrow Venezuela's constitution for a bit, they've got a presidential recall provision and a federal pension for mothers. How cool is that?

Posted by natasha at September 4, 2005 02:26 AM | US News | TrackBack(1) | Technorati links |

I'm a retired residential general contractor and I have tried unsuccessfully to find a Habitat for Humanity project that was not sponsored by a fundamentalist/Christian church group. I would gladly give both my services and money to a lay group who is sponsoring a Habitat for Humanity project. Does anyone know of such a group - in Northern California for my skills or anywhere for a donation?

Posted by: Tom at September 4, 2005 10:58 AM

I'm sorry to add to the New Orleans tragedy, as well as to the tragedy that your politics have become. But I'm wondering how many Americans realize what striking images have been relentlessly showing up on newspapers' front pages everywhere, from Canada to Europe, from Latin America to Asia and to Africa, in the last few years.

Namely, those front page articles go : -Israel -- Iraq illegitimate invasion -- Polls : 80% of World population against Bush -- 9/11 : 1973 -- Guantanamo -- Abu Grahib -- Creationism back in USA schools -- Wal Mart… And now : New Orleans.
(I hear those don't always make front page news anymore in the USA.)

Most of those front page articles in local newspapers around the World are accompanied by striking, vivid images. Those images carry the story of an empire being turned inside out. A Colossus revealing its clay feet. But more importantly, they carry the story of the champion of an ideology revealing the sacrifices it has been imposing on a certain sense of humanity (of humaneness) in order to deliver the promises it's made.
-In order for every individual to obtain riches and beauty, some (quite many), must in the end pay, after all. And it suddenly appears that they have been paying a lot.

Another point those images carry to an attentive World is that, even though we see that there is still a strong sense of morality in America (which is still considered the pole of Freedom and of an exceptionally ingenious sense of democracy), you all did vote for Bush a second time. You did.
Though there is a strong voice in America speaking against the liberal Darwinian ideology that the American Republicans keep imposing on the world, from intellectuals to the common American folks, nearly all Americans, even hardcore left-wingers, keep believing in a divine destiny for the American Dream and "what it stands for". And maybe therein lies the roots of the trouble : Maybe replacing communities with a flag was too hardcore, after all.

At this point, my interpretation is that the rest of the World has come to think that America is finished as an empire. The New Orleans tragedy has achieved driving the nail that gets us saying : "America, get off your high horse".
Not that you should stop trying to act out of ideals and principles. Not that you should stop being a great nation. But maybe, on top of that, you should try to become an actual “society” : A group of people pulling together. Maybe you should stop believing religiously in your flag and your ideologies (from individual divine rights, to the free-market, to gun ownership), and start actually getting to know your next-door neighbours.

Maybe then, once you realize that the word “community’ has meaning, you'll develop a sense of collective neighbourliness towards your neighbour nations as well.

From an outsider’s point of view, it is crying that America has lost something in the definition of human relationships. The facts keep revealing themselves in sources ranging from your sit-coms to Hollywood movies (where everybody is always black-and-white perfect), to newspaper articles detailing how fucked-up dealing with people, dealing with food, dealing with sex, dealing with children, dealing with politics, etc. has become in your country.

I have to say, it is simply intolerable that you, of any nation, would reveal discrimination, paranoid control freaking-out laws, and would reveal that you routinely commit torture. The Taliban do it : Fine. It is expected. But it is intolerable that the nation that has championed democracy around the World (sometime even through the instalment of military dictatorships) would reveal in its belly the existence of third-world-grade lack of care for the most basic human rights, such as the World is witnessing through the New Orleans pictures and articles.

The World wants America to become a team player. It is waiting for it to stop acting as a holier-than-thou moralizer. Because though the New Orleans image can’t destroy your democratic ideals, it is done destroying the illusions we had about your political and economic realizations on a human scale.

I don’t know what I’d do if I was an American right now. I’d probably be thinking of moving to Canada…
But as an outsider, I know that time is pressing for you. Historically, you’re at the point where you should realize that this is the end of the pendulum. –There is no swinging back to “Greater Times” for you, this time. Because that would entail worldwide belief in your ideologies again ; Like it used to be from the 50s to the 90s. But New Orleans has finished breaking the illusions that could permit that.
Now there is only the possibility of a “swinging down” for America : To times where you’ll be thinking about applying your ideals, instead of upholding them. Or else, it will mean a “breaking down”, a lot of us are afraid.

Posted by: Yann at September 4, 2005 11:28 PM

Yann, I can tell you for sure that the people who write this blog and hang around it on a regular basis voted for the other guy. We and our ideological team spent the whole election season trying to get people to understand how frakking bad this looks (unfortunately, we knew it was a lost cause to get them to see how frakking bad it *actually was*) and that they really need to start giving a shit what other people think because eventually it was going to bite us in the ass. Color us un-frakking-believably angry to be proved right.

Clearly, all our efforts didn't work. I don't know what to tell you about the rest, presumably you know a touch more than me about what people outside think of us, but I can read the poll numbers. I know that our relations with other countries and our standing among the nations of the world has never in history been so low. I know that Bush has singlehandedly made this country seem like the biggest threat to world security there is, such that when we drone on about Iran all we get in response are sardonic eyebrow lifts.

What's my take? I'm just so outraged and heartbroken that some days I can't even watch the news. I'm so disgusted by watching this administration commit some travesty against decency with their every breathing act that I'm too dispirited to be shocked. I feel like I never knew how much I loved this country until I watched these gutless, puling ratfuckers take a goddamned wrecking ball to everything that makes it good. They haven't finished their demolition, but they're working real hard, coming in Saturdays and sitting up evenings.

But I'm not moving to Canada. That would probably mean the terrorists had won. Or something. I'm not sure what the appropriately patriotic indignant response is supposed to be this week, I must have forgotten while I sat and watched this government do more damage to this country through willful neglect than the terrorists of 9-11 managed to do through careful planning. Dear god.

Posted by: natasha at September 5, 2005 01:39 AM

Natasha, I have no doubt about who you and your colleagues voted for (or against). When I mentioned a “strong sense of morality” and a “strong voice speaking against the liberal Darwinian ideology” in America, I was thinking specifically of people like you. In fact, I’ve been reading this blog religiously this last year. Because I seek intelligent political analyses coming from within the USA. But maybe also because I need to reassure myself that your great nation hasn’t finally entered a one-way road that’ll just keep spiralling down, seeding chaos and general recession in its path for the rest of us.

But please don’t move to Canada. Not that we wouldn’t want you to, but because your country needs that strong voice more than ever.
And also because you’d end up being disappointed. As you might know, our current PM, Paul Martin, used his time as finance minister to make massive cuts in education, health and social services in our provinces : Resulting in a situation where our health care system is in shambles, where deserving people have increasing difficulty getting assistance, where public school libraries still have geography books with the USSR in them, and where the only way out for schools is to keep students from flunking at any cost (mostly theirs), and integrating the ones with learning problems into regular classes. Because the government has no money to take care of them, they keep saying. Martin even passed special laws easing fund transfers to fiscal paradises for large Canadian enterprises. So guess where the money is…
In short, we have our own demons to work on. (And heck, I sometimes catch myself wondering how difficult learning Swedish or Dutch really is…)

I’d also be blind or dishonest in not admitting that a great part of the World, especially the West, has made itself an accomplice in the transformation that has turned a great utopian society into the World center for greed and competition. Indeed, it serves some of our interests well to have present this great free market of goods, money, ideas and liberties. Even if we like to criticize as a massive illusion the idea that an invisible hand can magically replace culture and social bonds.

In any case, the day that I click on my link and see that the site has gone off-line, then I’ll be very scared indeed.
Please keep on fighting, with the insurance of all our moral support.

Posted by: Yann at September 5, 2005 03:40 PM

Yann - "But maybe also because I need to reassure myself that your great nation hasn’t finally entered a one-way road that’ll just keep spiralling down, seeding chaos and general recession in its path for the rest of us."

We're not even reassured of that, but I'm glad we can provide you with some small comfort ;)

And yes, this is a co-dependent relationship we've got going on with all the other western nations. The most recent and glaring example is Britain's toadying support for a war they knew was wrong, just to protect all their billions of investment dollars. What I'm really hoping is that the Bush administration will provide a sufficient cautionary tale to the rest of you that you won't follow us down the primrose path towards third world levels of social support, disaster preparedness and corruption.

Don't let all of us put up with this in vain. When you see your government acting like jerks, consider it your solemn duty to demand to know if they want to turn your country into Bush's America. And then don't let them. We waited too goddamn long and we're paying the price.

Posted by: natasha at September 5, 2005 10:18 PM

Will do.

And on your side, please keep a positive outlook. Maybe the solution lies not in war, but in banana-cream pies :


Posted by: Yann at September 5, 2005 10:36 PM