Four years after Katrina, government bodies are still shuffling about trying to figure out what is the best future policy for a sustainable, prosperous New Orleans. The challenges facing the Gulf Coast are the same facing the nation: developing housing, improving health care, closing educational achievement gaps, de-concentrating centers of poverty, and achieving security from climate change and its related disasters. Except in the Gulf Coast these problems are much more pronounced. If the federal government were ever to focus on this region, the solutions produced for these social and environmental ills could be applied broadly across the nation.
While campaigning in February, 2008, Obama said, “I will make it clear to members of my administration that their responsibilities don’t end in places like the 9th Ward; they begin in places like the 9th Ward.” Suffice it to say that the Gulf Coast is the Lower 9th Ward of the United States. And yet, for all of Obama’s posturing on 9th Ward primacy while running for office, he’s not visited the area once since being inaugurated. Meanwhile, George Bush — you know, the one who “doesn’t care about black people” — visited New Orleans for every August Katrina memorial, even if he was a day late and a dollar short.
The Institute of Southern Studies recently released a report that assesses how Washington has handled the storm’s aftermath. The ISS asked 50 community leaders to grade the Obama administration’s Katrina recovery efforts: Obama got a D+, and Bush was given a D-. If graded on an E for effort curve, Bush probably would have gotten the edge given his authorization of millions in Gulf Opportunity tax credits and bonds, and an extension of time under which developers could use them.
Meanwhile, Obama has done little in seven months beyond distributing $50 million in housing vouchers. Unfortunately, families either won’t be able to use them because there aren’t enough houses built yet, or the vouchers will be of little use because they only cover a fraction of rents, which have risen substantially since Katrina. He’s also instituted a plan to sell FEMA mobile units to families for $1 or $5, but many of those trailers are toxicfrom formaldehyde leaks.
Yesterday, HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan visited New Orleans to address a room of policymakers, nonprofit directors, foundation heads, and community leaders. He made an announcement that HUD will relax their “duplication of benefits” rules, allowing families who’ve already received disaster housing recovery funds to receive additional support from community development block grants that will be administered by non-profits. It’s a good save for those who’ve already begun rebuilding their homes. As for those still without homes, the verdict is still out. Donovan claimed his advocacy for another extension of the placed-in-service dates to 2012 was a sign of more progress, but with financing still clogged up, and the value of tax credits far below the dollar, that extension won’t have great significance for developers of low-income housing.
A visit from Obama would go a long way here, as would firm commitments for how his government will do the “whatever it takes” that Bush promised for the Gulf Coast. Once the Obama administration gives the Gulf Coast the attention it needs and deserves, then recovery will become a reality not just for those already with means and resources, but also for those who’ve been living here without. (tapped)
In the days after September 11th, Teddy made it a point to personally call each one of the 177 families of this state who lost a loved one in the attack. But he didn’t stop there. He kept calling and checking up on them. He fought through red tape to get them assistance and grief counseling. He invited them sailing, played with their children, and would write each family a letter whenever the anniversary of that terrible day came along. To one widow, he wrote the following:
"As you know so well, the passage of time never really heals the tragic memory of such a great loss, but we carry on, because we have to, because our loved one would want us to, and because there is still light to guide us in the world from the love they gave us."
We carry on.
”—Barack Obama’s remarks at Sen. Ted Kennedy’s funeral.
“I think if Obama fought instead of finessed so much… if he would stand up and say ‘We need this, because we’re a decent country,’ I think it would change the atmosphere. In the last two weeks, the right-wing has been wining the debate. How he lost control of the narrative, I don’t understand - well yes I do: he didn’t find the right metaphors… and he didn’t speak in simple, powerful, moral language. He was speaking like a policy wonk to the world of Washington, not to a country of people where… 47 million don’t have health insurance.”—
BILL MOYERS, basically telling Obama and the Dems to grow a pair and take the healthcare debate by the horns, starting with using better metaphors to describe why healthcare reform is needed in the simplest terms, on Real Time With Bill Maher
“We’re all in the same boat,” Moyers says. That’s easy to understand.
In October, MTV will debut the new reality series “Gone Too Far,” an exploration of addiction and intervention inspired and produced by DJ AM, nee Adam Goldstein, whose resume of personal issues includes not only surviving a plane crash and weight problems but also a six-year addiction to cocaine.
“Moderates, even people left of center, will listen to you if you don’t tell them Barack Obama is a communist and Sonia Sotomayor is a racist. They will listen to you when you can have a debate on philosophies.”—Joe Scarborough
“It’s the usual garbage. And people describing, inaccurately, things they don’t know anything about. Unfortunately, garbage creates more garbage. People imitate it because that’s the way they feel like they should act.”—Whit Stillman, on Gossip Girl (via goldenfiddle)
After spending weeks dogging George W. Bush’s presidential vacations, anti-war protester Cindy Sheehan is now trying to make life uncomfortable for President Barack Obama.
Sheehan used to pitch a peace camp near Bush’s ranch in Crawford, Texas, becoming a symbol of the anti-war movement after her son Casey died in action in Iraq.
On Thursday, she and a band of anti-war protesters turned up outside the media center used by journalists covering Obama’s vacation on the well-heeled east coast resort island of Martha’s Vineyard.
“The reason I am here is because … even though the facade has changed in Washington DC, the policies are still the same,” Sheehan told a handful of journalists, against a backdrop of her “Camp Casey” banner.
Credit where credit is due… Cindy Sheehan sticks to her convictions regardless of who’s in charge and is consistent. Most of the anti-war movement during the Bush years was totally bogus. Put a Democrat in office and — voilà! — the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are a-OK with lefties. A paltry eight percent of them consider the wars a policy priority.
“I’m 31 and at a professional dead end. And so are most people in here." We both surveyed the scene, about two dozen veteran Media Professionals posted up by the bar, with a smattering of others smoking cigarettes and chatting in enclosed circles outside. "I mean, think about it. What actual skill do I possess?" He took a gulp of beer. "I edit quips about Marc Jacobs’ boyfriend for a living. ‘Editing’ is not really a job. Not anymore, at least. There are about a million younger, cheaper people who can do what I do, who also happen to know a thousand times more about the internet than I do. Eventually, I’ll either die of boredom or get replaced. And then, what? I’ll be 35. What the hell am I gonna do with the rest of my life?”—Q, The Plight of Print’s Lucky Ones
Food blogs can get so tiresome… Pages upon pages of food pics with some half-hearted commentary (“I was feeling adventurous so I had some hot sauce with my eggs this morning!”). That’s why I only do My Day in Food once a week, if that. Don’t get me wrong, I love food blogs and read way too many, I’m just saying sometimes they lack a little originailty.
Katie’s, however, is awesome. It’s funny, it’s unique, it’s real, and it’s more than just food. It’s totally on my regular rotation of must-reads now.
It’s about time I made a list of my favorite food/health/nutrition blogs… A “blogroll” if you will.