The American Renaissance

Baja Canada del Sur: Comedy and Comment in the Age of Occupation

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Location: Little Rock, Arkansas

found done in needlepoint on Mel's Front Porch: I Pledge Alligence to the Constitution of the United States of America. And to the Republic for which it guarantees, One Nation, Undeniable, with Liberty, Truth, and Justice for All.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Good Enough for Government Work

That's an expression I picked up from my dad. Drafted in the late fifties, he was lucky enough to do his active service right before the war machine that was Vietnam started chugging along full steam. He ended up making a career as a printer for the Army Corps of Engineers, working at the Federal Building in Little Rock, Arkansas. Daddy is struggling these days, and Mama is, too...this getting old business surely isn't for sissies.

But growing up with a dad that worked for the "fed'ral gub'mint" gave me an early intro into the world of red tape. And oh, what a tangled web we have wove.

I meander around the internet, read a bit, try to keep my ear to the ground...and it is becoming increasingly difficult not to be an alarmist.

I'm just a simple woman...I've got a nice job as a mailclerk, a comfy little place to live up here in Seattle, but I want to go on record at this point: Hurricane Rita is going to be insult on top of injury.

If the feds are not already coordinating Rita response in Louisana and Texas, the continuing lame response to Katrina may well pale in comaparision. While Dubya et. al. scramble around trying to make the last three weeks look good, they still don't get it. Bush and his toadies ramrodded thru their 'Patriot Act.' That, among many other odious things, does give the prez the power to act swiftly during a national emergency, and screw red tape. And it is simple. Shut the fuck up and DO something constructive.

Patriot Act or no, what the fuck stopped him from issuing an Executive Order to the military to airlift water and food to people in the Big Easy? Is he the Comander in Cheef or is he ain't?

It looks like Galveston, a town I dearly love, at least has a darn good memory (and a good thing, that...Galveston Island itself is barrier island, only a few feet above sea level, and right on the sea). The locals are already making provisions for the evacution, if necessary, of the hospitals, the shut-ins, and the folks without private vehicles. God bless 'em.

Hurricanes, or even tropical storms, that wander ashore in Texas, can be truly mean in and of themselves. Much has been said of the 1900 hurricane that destroyed Galveston, but what of Houston? There's a lot of folks from Texas who remember Alison, who reminded us that Houston itself is built mostly on a drained swamp. Many towns in Texas have in recent memory gone under water from merely a 'tropical depression'. I'm keeping hope that good ol' Texas, who has shown such blessed good will to their neighbors during Katrina, doesn't get smacked itself; and I am seeing signs that the folks there already realize ya better help yourself, because ain't no help coming.

I wish like hell I'm wrong, but I think Rita is going to be another monster.

Head for the hills, thoughts and love are with you.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

America without the Cresent City?

This is very simple. And no disrespect intended. But...

Four years ago America was attacked. It was a national disaster, and a national tragedy.

Fifteen days ago America was struck by a national disaster, and a national tragedy that is still going on, by an event natural (usually even commonplace) called a hurricane.

Was it the fact that the first was man-made, and the second (arguably) not, that the first set of people affected are lionized, and the second, at best, tolerated, and at worst, are blamed for their predicament?

Or was it that the victims of the first, in their offices, or on their planes, might be considered somehow worth more in the public mind than an entire city, an entire chunk of our southern coast, most of which are also hard-working Americans? Are we really so shallow, so hard-hearted in our personal little lives, to actually consider throwing away one of our most unique cities, by punishing the folks who for generations have made it what we love?

New Orleans was old when Houston was still a swamp; a major port, with its pirates, its wealthy, its scoundrels and its saints, it also happens to be the first place in the America to harbor and honor free people of color, and provide the first halting opportunities for many. I have yet to hear of any plans to rebuild the worst hit parts of the city of New Orleans (or for that matter Gulfport, or Biloxi, or Mobile), or any suggestion of providing reasonably affordable housing to the majority of the displaced.

The thought that such a singular place as the Big Easy in America's sweltering melting pot may rise again only to be a tourist attraction, a sort of Vegas South, without the core, the very people who gave her the unique laid-back ambiance, that toughness, that which is New Orleans, that scary, spooky, freaky, tawdry mixed dame that is everything the South itself is...

Rebuilding a city without its soul?

Have we really walked so far down the path to sterile oblivion? For shame!

The innocents of September 11 deserve our remembrance. The people of the Gulf South deserve no less.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Proud to be American -- despite the pricks

I've been busy writing letters to people, in the administration, which are obviously being ignored (not that I think my opinion is so special, but realizing so many who feel the same are doing so...), and am truly heartsick. It's obvious the time has come to replace those in Washington, the folks who have consistently shamed our country. The only thing that's kept me out of a deep depression over the events of the past two weeks is the people of our country, and the people of the world.

I must say one thing clearly...I no longer believe that the US administration is merely incompetent. The foot-dragging is clearly becoming an intentional event. Much has been said of the racist issue, but I find it even more profound than that. With Bush suspending fair labor practices in the hurricane-affected areas, as well as reports of good ol' KBR-Halliburton getting the contracts for rebuilding, it seems to me the administration has absolutely no qualms whatsoever of turning every tragedy into another project to loot money. That many of the folks who have suffered so much and lost everything happen to be black is pretty inconsequential, except that it factors into keeping the dwindling redneck base loyal. Even in the Puget Sound area, notoriously Blue and liberal, if I had a dime for every time I've heard the expression 'those people', I could retire comfortably.

Sorry to be such a Gloomy Gus, but like after the 2004 national election, it is very disheartening to feel as if everything our country stands for is being pissed away. The thing that keeps me going is the resilience of the American people themselves. While the federal response was worse than shameful -- turning away every effort, here and internationally, simple things that might have helped and frankly saved lives, there were thankfully home-grown rebels, who did their best to sneak in water, medicine and food. Then there is the folks in the area. The media has led us to believe the worst of humanity, but the stories are starting to come out about the best. Little enclaves in Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and New Orleans itself, of people pulling together, sharing what meager resources they have, and not wanting to leave what little they have behind. Don't forget, unless you've got batteries and a portable radio, these are people since before the storm living strictly on a local basis.

Oh, and did you hear? Ports around the world are full of emergency supplies earmarked for Katrina, and governments in Europe and elsewhere are quite puzzled. They didn't even get the dignity of a response from W.

Now we, out here in the Safe World, are being told that the estimates of dead in New Orleans may have been overestimated. Hmmm. Is this counting those who died on the buses during shipping, or those who died after reaching Points East, West, or North? Like everything in the relief effort from the federal arena, these numbers are non-existent. As are any real numbers, images, or truth coming from now-federally-by-default controlled New Orleans. Given the record of the admin, I doubt we'll ever get a true count.

I actually credit W's mom's they truly show how the 'haves' view this disaster.

I'm a lucky have-not. I have a nice place to live - small, but I love it. I have a temporary position at a major insurance company, that may or may not go permanent...or considering the current events, may go away completely. If I were laid off Monday, I would still be much better off than the hurricane folks; not only are their homes damaged or destroyed, so are their workplaces, their very jobs. They are getting offered $2000 per family (vague in itself), the availability of which changes from day to day. People, paperwork is designed to discourage people from RECEIVING government aid; this is not new. When our reserve folks, our guard folks, in what was 'normal' times, were returning from year-long deployments in Iraq not only to have no job left, being denied veteran benefits, when regular active troops had families living on base that qualified for FOOD STAMPS, there were those of us who were (and still are) pointing this out. Advocating for the troops, we were painted as traitors, as if we don't support the troops. And when a mom of a regular Army guy has the audacity to ask exactly why her kid had to die, all W can come up with is that we must honor those who've died by sending more to die.

The sad truth is our president sent us into Iraq over money. Oil.

The sad truth is that Iraq had nothing to do with the September 11, 2001 terrorists' attacks.

The sad truth is that our money has been wasted on ineffective 'homeland security'. Imagine if the terrorists had bombed the levees.

The sad truth is that our president got re-elected on the 'don't change horses in a war' theory, waging a war he created, and is losing -- due to his own poor planning, understaffing, lack of armor and equipment, his own mis-management.

The sad truth is that Iraq itself, and its lack of basic services combined with the decent into a new Islamic state by the US-deadline-forced current pending constitution, is actually worse off than it was under a hated dictator.

The sad truth is that our president is even incapable of making an executive order, one which should have been done by the 30 of August, to simply airlift water, medicine, food and supplies, to American citizens in the south.

The sad truth is we have a president who is not compassionate, not personally connected, loyal only to his makin'-money cronies, and simply has no CAN DO.

In short, we have a president that is not an American.

Many of us who are have noticed.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Two Americas

I was listening to Air America tonight, and heard a brother call in and say there are two Americas, one of which is "oh, my, this is horrible, where's my checkbook." And I hear that. I'm a white woman, originally from Little Rock Arkansas, where some folks are still stirred up about 1957. Myself, anybody who bleeds red is just as human as me, and hurts just as deeply.

Now here I am up in Seattle, and still hearing this same stupid talk about 'they' were told to evacuate. I'm lucky enough to have a job - temp - and live in low-income housing. I'm extremely lucky, as the housing I live in is a lot nicer than any I've ever known. I live from paycheck to paycheck, and have all my life. Up here in the northwest, I see a lot of the 'get out the checkbook' and ain't nothin' wrong with that. But I absolutely see red when someone around here tells me some shit about 'they' should have got out when they could.

There is more than one America. There's the poor folks, there's the 'middle class', and then there's the aristocracy. Two out of three are useful, and the third have pooled all the resources. And if you are white and have looked at the images on television for the past week, and cannot see yourself there, you are a fucking racist. Period.

That goes for you, too, Condi.

Ray Ray for President

Anybody who wants to blame the victims down South, whether for refusing to evacuate before the storm, for 'shooting at the rescuers', or amazingly, as I heard from a co-worker, being poor because they are 'bad-money managers', needs to give a listen to Mayor Nagin's interview with radio station WWL Thursday night.

By the way, I see none of those reasons, even if they were true, to be justification for being completely abandoned for days; and trust me, there are still plenty who are going to die, across the Gulf Coast, because enough is still not being done.

For the record, I thought Nagin showed incredible restraint, in view to what he was seeing go on around himself. "They're showing all these reports of people looting and doing all that weird stuff, and they are doing that, but people are desperate and they're trying to find food and water, the majority of them." He continued, "And one of the things people -- nobody's talked about this. Drugs flowed in and out of New Orleans and the surrounding metropolitan area so freely it was scary to me, and that's why we were having the escalation in murders. People don't want to talk about this, but I'm going to talk about it.
You have drug addicts that are now walking around this city looking for a fix, and that's the reason why they were breaking in hospitals and drugstores. They're looking for something to take the edge off of their jones, if you will. And right now, they don't have anything to take the edge off. And they've probably found guns. So what you're seeing is drug-starving crazy addicts, drug addicts, that are wrecking havoc. And we don't have the manpower to adequately deal with it. We can only target certain sections of the city and form a perimeter around them and hope to God that we're not overrun."

More from the interview:

WWL: Well, you and I must be in the minority. Because apparently there's a section of our citizenry out there that thinks because of a law that says the federal government can't come in unless requested by the proper people, that everything that's going on to this point has been done as good as it can possibly be.
NAGIN: Really?
WWL: I know you don't feel that way.
NAGIN: Well, did the tsunami victims request? Did it go through a formal process to request?
You know, did the Iraqi people request that we go in there? Did they ask us to go in there? What is more important?
And I'll tell you, man, I'm probably going get in a whole bunch of trouble. I'm probably going to get in so much trouble it ain't even funny. You probably won't even want to deal with me after this interview is over.
WWL: You and I will be in the funny place together.
NAGIN: But we authorized $8 billion to go to Iraq lickety-quick. After 9/11, we gave the president unprecedented powers lickety-quick to take care of New York and other places.
Now, you mean to tell me that a place where most of your oil is coming through, a place that is so unique when you mention New Orleans anywhere around the world, everybody's eyes light up -- you mean to tell me that a place where you probably have thousands of people that have died and thousands more that are dying every day, that we can't figure out a way to authorize the resources that we need? Come on, man.
You know, I'm not one of those drug addicts. I am thinking very clearly.

The full interview can be heard at