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Bush and Jackson Square Speech: Lying then and Lying Now
August 31st, 2006 under Hypocrisy, Katrina, New Orleans, Politics, poor, Rant. [ Comments: none ]

Mommy The following is from Bush’s speech at Jackson Square after hurricane Katrina:

I propose the creation of Worker Recovery Accounts to help those evacuees who need extra help finding work. Under this plan, the federal government would provide accounts of up to $5,000, which these evacuees could draw upon for job training and education to help them get a good job, and for child care expenses during their job search.

And to help lower-income citizens in the hurricane region build new and better lives, I also propose that Congress pass an Urban Homesteading Act. Under this approach, we will identify property in the region owned by the federal government, and provide building sites to low-income citizens free of charge, through a lottery.

Here’s what he said at Warren Easton High School in New Orleans this week:

I take full responsibility for the federal government’s response, and a year ago I made a pledge that we will learn the lessons of Katrina and that we will do what it takes to help you recover. (Applause.) I’ve come back to New Orleans to tell you the words that I spoke on Jackson Square are just as true today as they were then.

It’s really strange. I haven’t heard anything about the “Worker Recovery Accounts” and the “Urban Homesteading Act” except that they are “stalled in Congress.” Isn’t this a Republican Congress? Why doesn’t W publicly chastize them for stalling? I’ve got a great idea. Why don’t you, Scummy, and Dick make up some incredible lie about how much it’s needed! Why not tie it to 9/11 or “terrrism” or something?

You’re right W. Your words are just as true now as they were back then.

Hey Look! A Black Lady and Her Baby!
August 30th, 2006 under Katrina, New Orleans. [ Comments: none ]

When Photographers AttackI was at the memorial at the levee break in the Lower 9th Ward yesterday and was very moved.

No police, not a lot of TV coverage, and no brass band. As I was standing by the levee wall, I heard a photographer whisper loudly, “Hey, there’s a black lady with a baby!”

Wow. A photo op! I’m glad that there are journalists who are sharing our plight with the world, but that was a little weird. See the two ladies in white. All of the others are photographers surrounding them.

If I had broken down and cried I’m sure I could have had my picture taken too. Again, strange mixed feelings abound. Thanks for showing how much we hurt. I just wish more was being done to relieve the suffering.

It was the same way near the Convention Center. Strange sad day.

Six Things Not to Say to a Katrina Survivor
August 30th, 2006 under Baptists, Humor, Katrina, New Orleans, Rant. [ Comments: 2 ]

A very funny, but pointed oped by David Crosby, pastor of First Baptist New Orleans. Thanks David!

“Six Things Not to Say to a Katrina Survivor”

In Monday’s Times-Picayune, FBC-NO pastor David Crosby wrote an op-ed column under this title. Here it is in its entirety:

Not too long ago, a well-intentioned fellow from somewhere else began to tell me what he thought we should do to return our city to “normal.” I stopped listening immediately.

Processing the encounter later, I realized that I have reached my limit on helpful suggestions from well-meaning advisers. Outsiders may not realize how familiar residents of New Orleans are with our own failures–before and since the storm. This list is crafted to help family members and friends avoid blunders that can kill a conversation or incite civil unrest. I’ve heard all of these questions and comments in one form or another over the last few months.

“Hey, why don’t you guys clean up this mess?”

We’re working as hard as we can. The implication that we have not been working is an insult and does not recognize the amazing expenditure of energy and time and resources in the flood zone this past year. I calculate that if every barge and train and sea-going vessel that visits the Port of New Orleans were to haul nothing but debris, it would take 18 months to clean up the destruction of our city. And that’s if the debris were all neatly packaged and ready for containers. Just the ruined mattresses, lined up, would stretch from here to Chicago.

We’ve made a lot of progress in the first year. We fight the discouragement of knowing that we have just begun. This is going to take years.

“When my neighbor’s roof sprung a leak, we all pitched in and fixed it.”

No situation you’ve ever experienced in your past is anything close to the scale of this destruction. No neighbors are left to pitch in. Everyone’s hammers and kitchens and garages and vehicles are gone. In fact, the neighborhood itself is gone, along with all its landmarks and stores.

“If you think this is bad, you should have seen Blanktown after the tornado.”

You may believe that it will comfort us to know that you have seen worse. We just don’t believe it. Multiply your tornado damage by 10,000 and you might get close to what happened to us. Every day I struggle again to fully comprehend the breadth and depth of this tragedy. It’s the hardest thing I do–experiencing the devastation visually and relationally every day.

“It’s been a year. You need to get over it.”

The problem is–it’s not over. Just yesterday my good friend announced his departure to Texas. An elderly couple decided they were too old to be part of this task and will move to Mississippi.

My insurance bill just arrived, and it’s 80 percent more than last year. The countertops won’t be here until October.

My child’s friend lost her dad to suicide. Thieves stole my air conditioning unit. The parish clerk cannot find my marriage license.

No lawyer is left to render defense in a court ysstem that’s almost shut down. And 80 percent of the psychiatrists have departed permanently–just when we needed them the most.

We are living in a continuing urban disaster of unprecedented proportions. It’s living in emergency mode as a way of life. It’s 12 hours of commuting and working, two hours of repairing bathrooms and kitchens, and six hours of “rest” in a FEMA trailer with the wife and kids.

I can’t get over it, and I won’t. What I have to do is somehow stay healthy spiritually as I integrate this into my heart and soul. So I am mustering all my faith and love and hope trying to stay positive in my upside-down world.

“God’s not through. He’s gonna wipe y’all out next time.”

The Book of Job records that Job’s friends came to see him after the disaster. They sat in silence for seven days and did not say one word. (That would be a good start for the person who made this remark.)

Then Job’s friends made a mistake–they spoke. Everybody would have been a lot happier if they had just sat in silence for seven more days–or years.

Maybe God aimed Katrina at New Orleans. Maybe the Devil did it. Maybe it was highs and lows and prevailing winds and water temperatures in the Gulf. But one thing is sure–you don’t know. So don’t tell me you do. I don’t want to hear it.

“Say, could I get your picture standing on what’s left of your house?”

We’re still a little sensitive about our stuff, even if it is piled out on the street. Maybe especially then. This debris represents the material accumulation of many years of hard work. It’s junk now. We know that. But we’re not too eager to pose with our pain yet. We haven’t put on our makeup, and we look a mess. This may have been the most photographed city in America before the storm, and maybe that’s still the case. But for now, I’ll pass on the picture.

via Joe

McDonald’s: I Ain’t Lovin’ It!
August 30th, 2006 under Katrina, New Orleans, Politics, poor, Rant. [ Comments: none ]

McDFor me, today is the real anniversary of Katrina. This is the day that I woke up to scenes of broken levees on CNN and said, “Oh, Sh!t!”

I had to jump off my car this morning so I thought that I could recharge the battery by going to McDonald’s for breakfast. REMEMBER…one year after Katrina and this McD’s didn’t flood! Looted yes, flooded no!

Anyway, I was told in the drive-through that they had a limited menu because, “The stove is broke.” I could buy the burrito and take it home to heat up. So I did. Yum!

These are the little things we still have to go through around here even on the “blessed bank.” I ain’t lovin’ it. Remembering how folks were stranded here for DAYS in the United Stated of Freakin’ America has raised my anger level again. (Can you tell?)

As I drove by Jackson Square yesterday and saw about 100 cops and numerous national guards I wanted to yell “Where the Hell were you last year at this time?” but I didn’t. I had forgotten my wallet and was afraid they’d arrest me.

Gotta run. I’m giving my old refrigerator to a lady who needs it to keep her medication fresh. One year later and she’s still being impacted by Katrina. We all are. Sometimes it’s funny. Sometimes it makes me cry.

Katrina Anniversary Photos
August 30th, 2006 under Katrina, New Orleans, New Orleans Music, Photos, poor. [ Comments: 2 ]

DSC05427 Here is one of my photos of the Katrina Anniversary Events. The set can be found here. I haven’t labelled them all yet. I’ll get to that tomorrow.

Americans United to Save Our Wetlands
August 29th, 2006 under Environment, Friends, Katrina, New Orleans, New Orleans Music, Politics. [ Comments: none ]

VOWYesterday, I bought Voice of the Wetlands.

Celebrate the bayou while helping to save it! Acclaimed blues guitarist Tab Benoit is joined by Louisiana All-Stars including Dr. John, Cyril Neville, The Meters rhythm section and others on this hot and spicy New Orleans blues party!

A portion of proceeds from the sale of this CD go to “Voice Of The Wetlands,” a non-profit organization battling cultural and coastal erosion.

I bought it because I want to help preserve our wetlands and hear great music. Sunday, Shirley and I went to Congo Square to listen to Tab Benoit and Cyril Neville. They were fantastic. DSC05357 Tab Benoit is a legendary blues guitarist and the “voice of the wetlands.” He is unbelievable!

Just before I went to the concert, I read an oped in the Washington Post by a friend of mine entitled “On Becoming a Real American” that really stirred me. John Thatamanil is a scholar at Vanderbilt that I had the pleasure of spending time with while I was there last fall. He’s so smart and a very gracious guy. Here’s the text:

On Becoming A ‘Real American’

By John J. Thatamanil
Sunday, August 27, 2006; B07

From adolescence on, I heard a constant refrain from my Indian father: “Don’t ever believe that you’re really American.” I found his advice peculiar, especially as I had been living in America since age 8 and had largely forgotten my time in India. To him, it didn’t matter that the only language in which I could think a complex thought was English. It didn’t matter that the only music I listened to was Michael Jackson, the Bee Gees and Billy Joel.

My father’s dictum infuriated me, in part because I took his comment to be racist. Did he mean that only white people count as real Americans? What about African Americans, let alone Indian Americans? I have insisted ever since that in America, what makes someone an American is citizenship, not race or ethnicity.

This month — after hearing Sen. George Allen call an Indian American, born in this country, “macaca” — I better appreciated my father’s sober wisdom. What he meant to say is now apparent: “You will never be accepted as truly American.” Education, meaningful work and financial success can get immigrant minorities only so far. For some, whiteness will always be a prerequisite for being American. Conveying that message might not have been Allen’s intent, but it certainly was the effect.

What’s the lesson to be learned from this episode? Must South Asians and other immigrants resign themselves to second-class status — at least in the eyes of some? Of course “class” is the wrong word here. Indian Americans are, statistically speaking, the wealthiest immigrant group in the nation. We do experience discrimination and, on rare occasions, violence, as some Sikhs did right after Sept. 11, 2001. But discrimination has not had marked economic consequences. It is more often experienced by South Asians as a subtle matter of failed recognition: We are either rendered hyper-visible, marked out as different as S.R. Sidarth was made to feel by George Allen or, in other circles, rendered invisible because we are accorded the status of “honorary whites.” Membership in that exclusive fraternity is granted so long as difference is suppressed.

The Allen incident offers evidence that America is not now or likely to ever be a color-blind country. How are South Asians to live with this truth? Resignation is not the answer. Vigorous political participation is. My youthful intuition that what makes me as American as any Mayflower descendant is citizenship — not race or ethnicity — was only partly on the mark. The piece of paper that validates our identities as American citizens can do only so much if we do little to struggle for recognition.

There is also a second lesson to be learned from this incident. South Asian political engagement cannot be driven solely by the private interests of a single racial or ethnic group. America’s obsession with color has a long history that South Asians forget at their peril. Indian Americans and other affluent immigrant groups would do well to remember the civil rights struggles of African Americans and others without whom a racially inclusive American nation would have been impossible. The Immigration and Naturalization Act of 1965, which opened the door to people from the Eastern Hemisphere, must be recognized as the fruit of a larger struggle to expand the meaning of the term “American,” a struggle fought on our behalf before our arrival.

The aspiration to honorary whiteness — motivated by the hope that success alone will entitle Asians to equality within American life — betrays the memory of that long conflict. Only by making common cause with African Americans, only by joining with other immigrant groups that have not been as fortunate, can South Asian immigrants resist America’s troubled racial history and embrace its best aspirations for a truly democratic and inclusive future. That is a legacy I hope to transmit to my 8-year-old daughter, who is herself a lovely perpetual tan, a combination of my brownness with the lighter tone of her Ohio-born mother, who is herself part German, part English and part Native American.

In the near term, what this means is that Americans of color should work together to ensure that politicians who can see the many shades and hues of American life only as exotic, foreign or even un-American have no role in shaping our common future.

The writer is assistant professor of theology at Vanderbilt Divinity School in Nashville. He is the author of “The Immanent Divine: God, Creation, and the Human Predicament. An East-West Conversation.”
© 2006 The Washington Post Company


The great thing about living in New Orleans is that we do get along better than most down here. In fact, as I watched Tad and Cyril, three men in front of me illustrated why I love this town. The dancing, joyous friends consisted of a black guy (who went bought the beer), a white guy, and an indian guy. When the black guy returned with the beer, they toasted each other and continued to dance to the great music. John Thatamanil is right, many would have only seen one (or two) Americans in that group. But in New Orleans, they were just three guys listening to a band and having a great time.

That’s why I love New Orleans.

Pluto: A Right-Wing Conspiracy
August 26th, 2006 under Environment. [ Comments: none ]

I’m pretty ticked off about this Pluto thing! The planet with the coolest name gets nixed. That’s really uncalled for. My suspicions of a right-wing conspiracy were validated when I saw this:

Beverly Watson of the Christian Women Against Pluto, or CWAP, stated that their long-standing beef against Disney’s “homosexual agenda” has finally paid off. Watson stated, “I know that the Baptist boycott of Disney really didn’t work so we decided to make baby steps. Getting rid of Pluto was the first step. We’re really excited about what’s next! I can’t tell you what it is, because the homosexuals are really powerful, but let me just say watch out Minnie Driver!”

Happy Anniversary Baby, Got You on My Mind
August 25th, 2006 under Holidaze, Shirley. [ Comments: 2 ]

Shirley and I have been married for 21 years! It seems a lot longer. Maybe that’s because we dated for about six years before we got married. I met her when I was 16 and started dating her pretty soon after. I was so scared she wouldn’t go out with me that I waited until she quit working at Baskin-Robbins with me before I asked her out.

I’ve become more impressed by her strength, courage, and commitment over these many years and have grown to love her more than I can express. We are going to our favorite restaurant tonight. I can’t wait to be with her tonight! I feel strangely inarticulate as I try to express my love and the joy that she has brought to my life.

I love you!

See you soon!

Calling All Baptist Teetotalers! Put These Clowns on the Wagon!
August 22nd, 2006 under Baptists, Humor, Katrina, New Orleans, poor. [ Comments: 2 ]

My friends Bart and Michael are willing to give up drinking in order to raise money for a library in their New Orleans neighborhood! Please donate to their worthy cause. I took the fabulous pictures on their website. Take a look at Boozocracy.com! If that doesn’t work, Boozocracy.org should.

I ask all of my Baptist friends that think drinking is a sin to donate to their cause. The result–Less sin in New Orleans and a well stocked library.

To all my Baptist friends that think drinking isn’t a sin—you can vote too!

To all my non-Baptist friends—VOTE!

BTW–Happy Birthday Joe Strummer! Buy Joe Strummer by Cowboy Mouth here.

Egotistical Baptist Preacher or Entrenched Old Lady Sunday School Teacher?
August 21st, 2006 under Baptists, Christianity. [ Comments: 1 ]

First Baptist Church of Watertown NY dismisses woman who has taught Sunday School for 50 years!

Newswatch 50 reported the following:

Mary Lambert says she has taught Sunday School at Watertown’s First Baptist Church for more than 50 years.

But no more; Mrs. Lambert has been dismissed, she says, because she is a woman.

“Dear Ms. Lambert,” the letter goes, as read by Mrs. Lambert to NewsWatch50 over the phone. “This is to inform you that it is the diaconate board’s unanimous decision to dismiss you from the position of Sunday School teacher.”

“The board has adopted the scriptural qualifications for Sunday School teachers which prohibit women from teaching men.”

The letter is signed by Church Clerk Kendra LaBouf, Mrs. Lambert said. “Thank you for your anticipated cooperation,” it concludes.

The “scriptural qualifications” the letter refers to is apparently 1 Timothy of the New Testament. In it, Paul writes (according to the 3rd edition of the New Oxford Annotated Bible), “I permit no woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she is to keep silent.”

Mrs. Lambert said she believes her dismissal is part of an ongoing campaign under Pastor Tim LaBouf. Rev. LaBouf, also a Watertown City Council member, took over as pastor in May of 2004 and has been controversial at times with some of his more established membership.

“I guess I would describe this as an attempt to get all the established members out of positions of authority or decision making,” Mrs. Lambert told NewsWatch50.

In a reply, Tim LaBouf, the pastor, explains that he has brought the church from near extinction to tremendous growth! What a guy! Read more:

First let me address this issue in regard to how it applies to my role at First Baptist Church and some of the history that led up to the Boards decision. As most of you are aware when I arrived at First Baptist Church the congregation was dwindling and the church was headed for eventual closure. In a short period of time we began to see tremendous growth in the church which made me and many others feel thankful and blessed. In a short period of time classrooms that did not have children in them for a number of years were filling up with children, other parts of the building that had not been used in years were now needing to be utilized as a result of our growth. New members began stepping up willing to serve on boards and in various areas within the church. Changes began to be made to maximize our growth and meet the needs of the growing congregation. The majority of our membership was genuinely excited about the growth and new hope for the future of the church, however, as you recall there were some who were unhappy with new members joining the church, changes that were being made and my performance in general as pastor. As a result a small group decided to forgo the mechanisms that we have in place for dealing with conflicts or disagreements within the church and elected to hire a local attorney and aired their grievances in a letter to the Watertown Daily Times.

I know that sometimes older members resist growth. I also know that some egotistical pastors don’t care about the feelings of others if they disagree with them.

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