January 21, 2007

The Second Looting of New Orleans
By Jordan Flaherty

The city is an international symbol of neglect and racism. But the federal government isn't the only one to blame.

A year and a half after New Orleans became an international symbol of governmental neglect and racism, the city remains in crisis. Students are still without books, healthcare is less available to poor people than ever, public housing is still closed, and infrastructure is still in desperate need of repair. In an open letter to funders and national nonprofits, a diverse array of New Orleanians declared, "From the perspective of the poorest and least powerful, it appears that the work of national allies on our behalf has either not happened, or if it has happened it has been a failure."

In a recent conversations with scores of New Orleans residents, including organizers, advocates, health care providers, educators, artists and media makers, I heard countless stories of diverted funding and unmet needs. While many stressed that they have had important positive experiences with national allies, few have received anything close to the funding, resources, or staff they need for their work, and in fact most are working unsustainable hours while living in a still-devastated city.

Research backs up the anecdotal reports. A January 2006 article in The Chronicle of Philanthropy argued that the amount given to post-Katrina New Orleans was "small-potato giving for America's foundations, which collectively have $500-billion in assets." The article also asserted, "just as deplorable as the small sums poured into the region are the choices foundations have made about where the money should go." In other words, very little of the money had gone to organizations directed by or accountable to New Orleanians. One prominent New Orleans-born advocate and lobbyist called this phenomenon the "Halliburtization of the nonprofit sector." Êmore...

January 20, 2007

Greg Saunders:
As goes Mayberry·
Call me old-fashioned, but I think we need to get in touch with our more traditional values. (via Digg)

Too bad the country is being run by Otis the town drunk.

January 19, 2007

A BETTER WAY TO VOTE÷Many states have already come to the conclusion that a paper ballot voting system, with ballots either counted by hand or with optical scanners, is not only more accurate and reliable but it is also significantly less expensive.
By Warren Stewart

In the past year, concerns about the accuracy and integrity of computerized elections have entered the general consciousness and become accepted as serious. Issues that I addressed in the March 1, 2006, edition of the Spectator have since been written about in the national media, and the momentum has grown for legislative solutions to be found at the federal level. A new Congress is getting under way, and decisions will be made that will profoundly affect the way Americans cast and count their votes.

While computerized voting has been touted as a way to make elections easier and the results more reliable, an increasing number of voters, poll workers, and election officials have concluded that the process in 2006 was more difficult÷not easier÷and confidence in the tallies has been undermined. Many activists and legislators now question both the wisdom of relying on software to record votes, and the degree to which our elections depend on computerized voting systems and the manufacturers that sell them. more...

January 18, 2007

15 Steps Toward a Happier, Healthier American in 07
by Barbara Ehrenreich

1. Get the troops out of Iraq. Of course this is easier said then done, since conditions on the ground have become far too dangerous to allow for an orderly exit. Outward bound truck convoys, for example, would attract roadside bombs and other unfriendly send-offs. The best plan is to find out how thousands of Iraqis are managing to flee the country every day and take the same route.

2. Fight global warming, obesity and traffic congestion by constructing bike paths on all highways and roads.

3. End the war on drugs, thus saving over $30 billion a year. At the same time, gently wean current meth addicts onto Starbucks double shot espresso. more...

January 17, 2007

Where's the outrage?
A real antiwar movement would end our Iraq disaster. But the middle class doesn't care enough to protest, so the kids who go to community college will keep dying.
By Gary Kamiya

So now we wait for the end. The man who led America into the most disastrous war in its history has run out of tricks, out of troops and out of time. It is no longer a question of whether George W. Bush's presidency will officially die, but when -- and how many more Americans will have to die before it does.

We find ourselves, almost four years into the Iraq war, in a very strange situation. What do you do when it has become obvious that the leader of your country is -- there is no kinder way to put this -- a delusional fool? And that his weird fantasy war is hopelessly and irretrievably lost? Apparently, you just wait. The Democrats are raging and ranting, but they will not cut off funds. Still crippled by their fear of being labeled "soft on national security," the majority party will watch the end from a safe distance, like survivors who quickly paddle away from a doomed ship to avoid being pulled down in the suction when it goes down.

It's no mystery why the Democrats will not pull the plug. Cutting off funding for an ongoing war is a radical move, one that would expose the Democrats to familiar stab-in-the-back charges that they don't "support the troops." Now that the ugly end of Bush's war is in sight, why on earth would the Democrats want to risk being blamed for losing it?

This makes a certain political sense, but it is deeply cynical. It implicitly accepts that more young Americans must die for a policy that has no chance of working. They must die so that a cowardly president can delay his day of reckoning a few more months. They must die so that Democrats can wash their hands of the whole mess. more...

January 16, 2007

Iraq War and the American Peasant
Christopher King explores the phenomenon of the American peasant - that segment of US society which, through suspension of all critical faculties and indifference to the truth, defy logic and evidence by supporting the war against Iraq.
By Christopher King

The peasant is a type who has disappeared from Western Europe with excellent effects both socially and politically. The American peasant however has a lot to answer for. This is most vividly shown in the public's judgment about the rightness of the Iraq war where views are sharply divided between Europe and America.

The historical peasant was an agricultural worker who was poor, uneducated and usually worked so hard he had no time or energy for anything else. Any opinions or judgments that such a man might make would necessarily be of poor quality. In America, the land of plenty, opportunity and electronic information which has never seen a peasant class of this sort, how can the peasant possibly exist and indeed be blamed for his judgments?

I wish to discuss here one strand, but an important one, of many that made the Iraq war possible. Others for example are those of the Rumsfelds who were in it for the money, the Condoleezza Rices and Colin Powell who were careerists and the Richard Perles together with sundry Zionist supporters and collaborators for whom Saddam was their worst enemy.

We can easily understand them and their self-interests. Everyone got what s/he wanted except for Colin Powell whose unwise United Nations performance in identifying mobile chemical factories will make him a joke far beyond his lifetime. I am not concerned about these. I am interested in the major segment of quiet peasants who believed uncritically what they were told and supported the war by their compliance. I am speaking of a peasant state of mind. We cannot blame our historical peasant for poor judgment or lack of knowledge. He cannot help his position. The American peasant has no such excuse.

The infallible test for identifying a peasant is whether he believed that Saddam was behind the 9/11 attack. It is an unarguable fact, widely known for years, that Saddam was not behind it, yet large numbers of Americans to this day think that he was. more...

January 15, 2007

And I Said to Myself
by Norman Lear

Any century is lucky if it has a clown or two. The last century had one in Ed Wynn. Not a comic, a clown. THE ED WYNN SHOW, starring this genius, this clown, a must see in the earliest days of black and white television, had one detractor, a television critic named Jack Hellman. Hellman had written one or two blistering articles about the Wynn TV effort when one day he decided to visit the set with the show's publicity man, Henry Rogers.

Hellman, a notoriously unattractive man, was coming down the center aisle with Rogers when Wynn, who'd never met Hellman, spotted him from the stage. "Who's that with Henry," he asked his director. "Jack Hellman," came the response. "I'm glad," said Wynn.

I recalled that story this morning when I read on Yahoo yet another twisted, venomous attack on Americans, now including so many conservatives, who dare to suggest we may have made some mistakes in Iraq. Accompanying the piece, THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY; A VAST SLEEPER CELL, was a photograph of its author, Ann Coulter, rendered singularly unattractive by that hard, jaw-jutting up yours look from which her singularly sick attacks spew.

And I said to myself: "I'm glad."
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