Friday, February 29, 2008
Welcome aboard! We are glad to have your assistance (of course, we do strictly mean your assistance, as women are, of course, not equipped to lead)!
Thank you for helping to circulate our emails about Barack Hussein Obama being a Moslem, the son of a Moslem, the stepson of a Moslem, the son an atheist, the stepson of an atheist, an Islam denier, a liar, a Moslem candidate ready to free the Middle East from the Great Satan, a former Moslem student paying to attend a Catholic school in Indonesia, an anti-Semite, a black militant, and the parishioner of a profanity-spewing, black militant, anti-semite, Methodist preacher who is clearly a racist because he points out that the U.S. is a white, racist nation; that Obama calls a Kenyan woman with a very black face (photo helpfully included) "Grandmother;" that he is the product of racial mixing, the descendant of African slave traders (because, as all we all know, the really bad slave traders were the Africans themselves, so American slavery was their fault); that he wants to get us into war in Kenya (because even though he opposed the Iraq war, he is indeed just itching to get U.S. troops into Kenya!); that he lied about his WWII vet grandfather teaching him flag etiquette when he was two years old; that he won't say the pledge or put his hand over his heart during the national anthem.
Even though we also have at our website articles claiming that domestic violence protection orders discriminate against men; that a woman can't be president ever because it's unconstiutional; that hetero, Christian, white males are oppressed; that the Clintons are murderers and cocaine runners; that Pell grants discriminate against the middle class in favor of the working class; that the proposed law banning cops and soldiers convincted of domestic violence from continuing to have employment that involves firearms is another example of discrimination against fine, heroic men; that radical feminism is ruining the world; that global warming is a hoax and Al Gore a fraud; that John Kerry must be impeached, since under the constitution, no traitor may hold public office; that the ten commandments must be displayed in all public buildings and that all American governments, state, local, and federal, must immediately adopt a resolution stating that this is a Christian nation and that the wall of separation between church and state is a myth; that the "pro-Hanoi" actions of Senators McCain and Kerry caused the death of one of our soldiers; that John McCain is a traitor who broke under torture and has been programmed as a Manchurian candidate...even though our website says all of those things, none of which you agree with, we are heartened by your taking the time to forward our anti-Obama hatred to your friends and family members (not to mention glad that you didn't first bother to research us and our websites! who remembers the google anymore anyway! whew!)
As you might imagine, cramming that much contradictory crap into one email was quite a bit of work, so we're grateful for your help in forwarding it to as many people as possible. It's true we don't usually make common cause with people like you, Little Sister of NOLAradfem (liberal, feminist, pro-Clinton, believer in the separation of church and state, all that kinda stuff).
But, you know, when it comes to sliming and destroying that Obama dude, we reichwingers will take all the help we can get.
Thanks again for your blind support. We look forward to serving you beyond January of 2009.
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
Furthermore, during last night's presidential debate, Hillary Clinton insisted that Barack Obama's denunciation of Louis Farakhan was insufficient, demanding that he "reject" Farakhan as well as "denounce" him - which Obama did.
As a supporter of Barack Hussein Obama's, I feel it's only fair that I offer the same disclosure expected of my candidate.
And so, in the interest of full disclosure, I need to say, right here on my blog, that, yes, my middle name is indeed "Kaye." I don't know if my parents were trying to prove what intellectuals they were by spelling out a letter of the alphabet or what. I do know that they were ordinary New Orleanians, stationed in Alabama at the time of my birth, so maybe they were trying to get a little too fancy-schmanzy with that spelling, stretching a humble single letter into four. Or maybe they were trying to show pride in the culture of that particular time and place with their choice of such a strange, bland, monosyllabic, apparently Anglophylic name. Please be assured that had I been consulted about the issue at the time - and had I been lingual - I might have lobbied for a different choice. This election, however, needs to be not about the the desires of the parents of a newborn over forty years ago, but rather about the dreams and futures of the American people. I had hoped that at long last we were at a point in American history where we could be judged not by the letters filled in on our birth certificates but by the content of our character. Alas, our time may not yet have come.
Also, I am hearing rumblings about my middle name reminding some observers of Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson. Although we share a name, a mere one letter apart just like Osama and Obama, I hereby denounce and reject her Republican policies. I also denounce and reject the religiosity of the Mary Kay cosmetics company.
If I have left out any other "Kayes" whose values do not reflect those espoused on this blog, please let me know. I will denounce them and then, if that still isn't enough, I am even willing to reject them.
Finally, I'm sure there have been at least a few people over the years who wanted to be my friend but who I thought were creepy, just as Senator Obama apparently feels about Louis Farakhan. I would confess their names if only I could remember them, but the truth is that I just didn't realize I would someday be responsible for them. If anyone has any dirt on me regarding creepy would-be friends I've rejected, let me know and I will be happy to denounce them and their beliefs. If that isn't enough, I will even reject them - again.
Thank you for your continuing support. I look forward to further serving you this important election season.
Dear Senator Vitter,
I see that you have devoted time and effort to the pressing problem of the need to pass legislation ensuring that women receiving health care under the Indian Health Service can never get abortions there. You devoted time and effort to getting that passed even though the Hyde amendment has banned the use of ANY federal funds for abortions since the 1970s. Heckuva job, Davie, because what the voters in this devastated state really need is duplicate layers of legislation.
I understand though that you have a principled pro-life position. My suggestion is that, in that spirit, you should offer a Senate bill limiting contraceptive access for prostitutes and ensuring that the fathers of any children of prostitutes be genetically identified and then forced to pay child support. Politicians, who are, after all, the self-styled moral guardians of a nation, should submit samples of their DNA to a centralized database for these purposes, thus ensuring that any guilty parties may be identified and compelled to provide diapers for the duration.
Seriously, Senator, a man who rents women's vaginas and then legislates what they do with their wombs - what's with this obsession of yours? It's so obvious, and it's an embarrassment.
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
So imagine my shock when the other day, I saw this new commercial (click "Bacon") for Holiday Inn Express. Showcasing the hotel chain's breakfast bar by playing it up as an actual bar, the ad involves several men standing in the dining area, ogling a woman alone, and discussing what breakfast item they should "send" her.
As BrandWeek describes it:
New work from Fallon, Minneapolis, cheekily calls attention to new hot entrees by positioning the breakfast bar as a nightclub. In one ad, co-workers mingle near the buffet while one guy tosses pick-up lines at his boss. Another 30-second ad shows men discussing whether it’s good form to send a cheese omelet, bacon or a cinnamon roll to a hottie they spot at in the buffet line. The effort also borrows nightlife elements like ladies night the designated driver and play up the free meal and breakfast to go service. Voice over mentions, “Check out the new hot bar in town.”
So, I went to Holiday Inn's web page and found the other ads, including this one (click "pick up") in which a male business traveller at the breakfast "bar" mindlessly attempts to pick up every woman in the place, including one who has to remind him that she is, in fact, his boss! Oh, ha-ha-ha. Sexual harassment is just so "cheeky," as Brandweek describes the ad campaign.
There is another article about the ad campaign at Hotel Resource:
The Express Start(R) Breakfast Bar relaunch coincides with the brand's newest series of TV commercials that began airing the week of Feb. 11. The new spots play off the idea of Holiday Inn Express offering the 'hot' new bar in town. The breakfast bar takes on a life of its own as the social scene for groups of business travelers who dine, flirt and socialize with colleagues in potentially awkward, yet humorous situations. The ads from Fallon Minneapolis have the unexpected, witty humor that is characteristic of the award winning Holiday Inn Express Stay Smart advertising campaign. The new spots can be viewed at http://www.hiexpress.com/, and will air on popular national cable networks like ESPN, The History Channel, Comedy Central, CNN and TNT. The ads also will air on CBS during the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament.
During basketball. Really? What, no "Lifetime?" As usual, we know to whom the pitch is really being made. And note the article's references to the ads' "potentially awkward, yet humorous situations," which leaves out the fact that the situations depicted are also potentially dangerous - at least for a woman who eats breakfast in the hotel lobby and then must return alone to her room before making several trips to load luggage into her vehicle.
Did no one at the ad agency or the hotel chain or in the t.v. production process ever think about the fact that being a woman staying in a hotel alone is somewhat frightening? Don't get me wrong - I loved my hotel room a few weeks ago. It was the first time in my entire life that I had ever had my own room and I loved it so much I threatened to never return home. Still, there were those moments, always that awareness inherent to living while female under the patriarchy. There was the guy at the desk to whom I accidentally implied that I was alone. Later, there was a man coming into the hotel some moments after me and I was terrified as I got my luggage to the internal staircase, brick, thick-walled, meant to be used in case of fire but also probably soundproof and a problem if I were attacked and needed to scream. My arms were full and as I waited for the stairwell door to click shut on its own, my heart was pounding even as I strained to listen carefully for footsteps. Then the door didn't quite click all the way, which meant the man in the hallway behind me could possibly follow me into the stair area. Scary stuff. A day in the life.
And Holiday Inn thinks it's oh-so innocent, safe, "cheeky" even to show men gawking at women and practicing their sophomoric sexual pitches right there at the hotel's breakfast bar.
Every space and every scenario in this country is seen as a potential venue in which men can objectify women - both in real life and in advertising.
Just to see if I was possibly overreacting (I have been accused from time to time, it's true), I did a quick google search of "hotel room rape." Of course, it's not overreacting when we women know we feel nervous about being assaulted a lot of the time, and that alone makes the Holiday Inn ads inexcusable, but I wanted to know if there is indeed a chance of a woman being raped at a hotel. And here is a sample:
"A Guest at the Plaza Hotel is Raped in Her Suite"
California Lodging Industry Association: "Hotel Not Liable for Guest's Rape, 7th District Rules"
"Safety of Hotel Employees: Rape at W Hotel New York"
"Hotel Guest Reports Rape by Security"
"Businesswoman Raped in Hotel Room, Jury Told" (the Hilton, Sussex, England)
tort case against Omni Hotels over rape of a woman attending a "Women in Steel" union conference in D.C.
more hotel torts, "Travel Abroad, Sue at Home"
It turns out there are even books on "Hotel, Restaurant, and Travel Law: a Preventive Approach."
Here is a summary of hotel and related liability lawsuits ("premises security liability suits"). Who wins these cases?
defendants: 52% of casesI will be contacting Holiday Inn Express customer service about these ads.
plaintiffs: 21% of cases
remanded: 19% of cases
to politicians dressed as Somali elders
and reminds us what dressing like the enemy really looks like:
Says Wolfrum, of the Obama-with-cowboy-hat photo:
When I first saw the photo, I couldn't believe it. I thought it had to be photoshopped, a hoax. After all, how could Barack Obama betray America so offensively? How could he insult the soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice?
I don't know the answers to these questions, but I'm shaken to the core. Without question, Obama's patriotism must be called into question for appearing dressed like an enemy of the American people.
Brilliant, Wolfrum. Brilliant.
This reminds me of Bill Maher's "I'm Swiss"
What is with Bush wearing the cowboy hat and the cowboy boots and the cowboy belt? Memo! Um, there are no more cowboys, which means you're wearing a costume. OK? You might as well be dressed as Sherlock Holmes or a pirate.
As for Obama, like I said over at Shakes' place, I think politicians are pretty much required to do local pandering when they campaign. Here in south Louisiana, visiting politicians all visit Leah Chase
and get their pictures taken eating her gumbo (Owner Leah Chase patted Obama on his stomach and told him, "Get a little gumbo right quick. You’re too frail baby. We gotta fatten you up a bit.” Times Picayune)
It's all about kissing the civic ring.
not that Leah Chase doesn't deserve it though!
If politicians hired Witches or magicians as consultants, we’d tell them that your deep mind responds to positive words and images, and doesn’t get ‘no’. Linguist and political theorist George Lakoff makes the same point in his book Don’t Think of An Elephant. You can’t not think of an elephant—because as soon as you say the word ‘elephant’, that image fills your mind.And then:
Magically speaking, then, Obama is casting a good spell. Whether he wins or loses, he’s filling the psychic and emotional atmosphere with words like ‘healing’ and ‘hope’. The effect is like a clean breeze blowing through a morass of stinking, noxious fumes. People want to believe, because they like the way he makes them feel about themselves.
In this country, we ask our politicians to do four main things: to make policy, to defend the country, to be good administrators, and to carry a huge load of our archetypal projections, embodying our hopes, fears, dreams and aspirations. The first three tasks are rational, the last goes much deeper. It falls into the realm of what we Witches call ‘magic’—the ‘art of changing consciousness at will.’She has some advice for Hillary too:
In the contest of archetypes, women are at a disadvantage, facing a deep, unconscious sexism that limits our collective imagination. We so easily turn into Mom, either Nagging Mom, or Bitch Mom who doesn’t really love us, or harried, responsible but dull Mom, complaining about how she does all the real work while sexy, divorced Dad just takes the kids to Disneyland. My personal sympathies lie deeply with Mom’s cause. She does do all the diaper changing and the homework while Dad breezes in for Ski Week and holidays. But if I were Hillary Clinton’s campaign advisor, I’d tell her, stay away from that archetype. Responsible Mom is not going to win over Aragorn the Exiled King. Instead, I would urge, be Joan of Arc. Find your vision, and be so passionately driven by it that you would stand forth and challenge kings and armies. Show us your courage, which we know you have. Tell us “I stood forth and went into realms where few women dared to go, because I care so deeply about the welfare of all of us.”
Whatever you do, don’t attack Obama on issues of faith and trust. Doing so will be just as effective as warning your teenage daughter that the sexy biker she’s fallen in love with has no history of gainful employment. more
Monday, February 25, 2008
There was a presentation by Dr. Ruth, natch.
There were three presentations on "What Do Girls Want" day. First was a talk about female orgasm (no talk about male orgasm though; presumably it's only women's orgasm that requires special trainin' and all). Second was "Pure Romance" givin' away some free sex toys (personally, I have always found cold plastic to be oh-so romantic!). Third was a "Girls' Night Out," with an open bar, and the first 100 women in line could get freebies from the sex toy company. Wow, so that's what Yale women want? Orgasms, sex toys, and getting drunk? I smell a rat - and it has a penis. This sounds to me like what men want women to want.
Then, on "Seduction" day, there were two events. The first was "Seduction: How to Get the Girl You've Always Wanted" and the second was "Mystery: the Mystery Method, Ladies Want Him, Guys Want to be Him," both from VH-1's "The Pick-up Artist" (which I've never seen, but I assume doesn't have anything to do with pinstriping the quad-cab). Of course, both events promising to instruct in the fine art of seduction were about teaching men how to get women. As careful long-time observers of the mating habits of humans within the patriarchy already know, heterosexual sex is something which the male of the species gets from the female. "Seduction" is, therefore, mission accomplished, the male getting from the female.
Friday night was a lingerie show, which I assume involved gawking at wimmenz in sheer, skimpy lingerie, but no male gawkees. Attendees were asked to wear "business attire," which makes sense because we've known for a long time that women belong half-naked while men are fully clothed.
Well, at least the lingerie show was for a good cause, as the proceeds went to AIDS prevention (translation: no need to feel guilty about a cheap display of women hypersexualized and pornified for the male gaze, since it's all for a good cause). No cheap patriarchal objectification here, cranky feminists; move along.
One day a "group product manager" from Trojan condoms was there, giving out condoms and also "vibrating rings" (I don't know what the rings are, frankly, but I'm definitely not gonna dis' free condoms).
There was a "skull and boned" party, which I assume, like ladies' night (above) was another exciting event at which young women were to be served copious amounts of alcohol (that's the "skull" part, as in "out of your") and then possibly fucked while they were too inebriated to give meaningful consent (that's the "boned" part, if you're a sex poz cool kid, and the "rape" part if you're a drag of a radical feminist like I am). Oh, and at the "skull and boned" party, Vivid pornography company was handing out free DVDs. Yeah! Freebies. Porn star and apologist Jenna Jameson tells us most women who start making porn are already victims of abuse, and once they are in the industry, they will likely experience pain, abuse, disrespect, disease, physical and emotional damage, disassociation from their own bodies and sexuality, degradation, greedy and abusive pimps/managers, substance abuse, groping and sexual demands from complete strangers, painful breast implants, plus the knowledge that the electronic records of their treatment are out there for the public's viewing pleasure in perpetuity. Step right up everybody, free samples right here! Don't worry about the ill effects on viewers either. Free DVDs, right here!
There was also a chance to meet the girls from Vivid. There was a contest to see which female Yale academics looked most like possible Vivid girls (presumably that would be in case the whole Ivy League thing doesn't work out).
Oh, yeah, and there was a debate about pornography itself. I know you're relieved to hear it. In the blue corner were Ron Jeremy and a Vivid "girl." In the red corner were...um...well, it looks like two church dudes. Oh, and one lawyer. Yeah! Was it a feminist lawyer like Catherine MacKinnon, who might discuss the civil rights ordinance idea in which women harmed by pornography could sue its manufacturers? Damn. Nope. It was just some "First Amendment" dude, obviously pro-porn.
Where were the feminist voices? Well, I've read over the schedule multiple times, but I just can't find any (geez, it's almost as if radical feminists are completely silenced; oh wait, that is because we are). So, I'm guessing the debate was something like "porn: liberative sex education tool for the masses or Jesus is disappointed when you use your seed for any purposes other than to make a baby within the context of heterosexual marriage." Who asked about women, about how the industry treats the actresses, about what pornography teaches men about women (that "no" means "yes," that all women really want it - hard penis-in-vagina thrust-thrust-thrusting - from all men all the time, that women enjoy pain, that women are stupid and objects and "cum buckets" and whores and here for amusement and to facilitate men's orgasms), and about what that means when men who've watched that stuff then interact with real women at work and at school and in the home and on the street? Who spoke for prostitutes and girlfriends and daughters and wives who have been pressured or even forced to act out what men see in these films? Who spoke for men who have realized too late that pornography has put a thick wall of inhumanity between themselves and the women they have loved, or at least tried to love? Nobody, it would seem. And that was billed as "the great porn debate." Great, eh? Doesn't sound so great to me.
Wait, there is this by Gain Dines. She wasn't at any events though, just got an editorial in the Hartford Courant the week before.
Okay, so, anyway, here's the punchline: Yale was going to show that porn is sex poz and cool, right? A porno flick, right there in the Yale Law School auditorium. It's so mainstream. It's so harmless. It's so...holy shit! The film started running and guess what? It was so hideous, the organizers of the event had to turn it off. Cinemus interruptus, right there in the Yale auditorium! Reports Yale Daily News:
...partway through the showing, graphic rape fantasies began to play onscreen. Rape fantasies, bondage, the piercing of a woman’s nipples and the labeling of a woman as a “slut” who “deserved” violent sexual degradation — this was some of the footage played at one of Sex Week’s final events.
No kidding. That's what pornography is like? It's as if those cranky feminists actually know what they're talking about (okay, please pardon me while I gloat just a bit; I feel I deserve it, and Gail definitely deserves it, especially because after her editorial ran, she was, predictably enough, called a "fascist," "hypocrit," and "pseudo-feminist" (because real feminists know that "Three in the Seat," "Gag on my Cock" (complete with actual vomiting), "Grudge Fuck," "Use 'em, Abuse 'em, and Lose 'em," "Vivian's Painful Examination," and anything involving Max Hardcore is empowerfulizing and healthy).
As the Yale Daily News article linked above points out, and this is exactly what I was going to say, the event's organizers have apologized for their failure to advance screen the material, but that completely misses the point. The point is that this is what pornography is like. This is what people are watching. And if you're going to be all pro-porn and promote the stuff, this is exactly what you're promoting.
Could it be that other examples of misogyny experienced by the bright young women of Yale about which I've read are in any way related to pornography and its objectification of women - and that all of the above are related to patriarchy and misogyny?
How about this story of a photo circulated of frat pledges standing in front of the Women's Center holding up a sign that said "We Love Yale Sluts."
How about this story about female Yale law graduates finding themselves unemployable because of male classmates posting things about them online - like their alleged participation in gang bangs and things about the men wanting to "grudge fuck" or rape them.
Connect the dots, anyone?
read more digg story
read more digg story
(corrected headline: another man kills an intimate partner)
read more digg story
(corrected headline: another man kills an intimate partner)
It's not often that I'm really shocked when it comes to sexism and woman-hating. Disgusted, yeah, every day, but not often shocked. This, however, I find really shocking.
I'm also sitting here reading poetry of African-American women of the nineteenth century. You know, it really pisses me off how there just aren't enough hours in the day to educate myself properly about herstory. I am an educated woman. I even have a degree in Social Justice Issues, with a Women's Studies concentration. And yet, every hour that I am able to spend researching online, I learn just how little I really know. Our herstory has been erased. Erased! Why in the hell were these African-American women's poems not in my English textbooks? Why, dammit?
Sunday, February 24, 2008
The men who are paying women for sex understand, on some level, that THESE WOMEN DO NOT GENUINELY DESIRE THEM. If they desired you, they would not require cash payment! I have certainly never asked a man with whom I desired to have sex to pay me! This means that, when a man is paying, he implicitly understands that the woman does not TRULY find him desirable. Yet he goes ahead and does it. Shame!
Helene, the reason so many prostitutes have drug problems is that the majority (85%, according to most studies) have been molested and abused as girls. They suffer from P.T.S.D. and fail to see themselves as anything other than objects for men's exploitation. They don't need legal and societal approval of their further exploitation, in the form of legalized prostitution. What they need is social services.
Gary and Sandy, if you do not understand that penetrative sex for money is invasive in a way that handing out burgers for minimum wage is not, there is truly something wrong with your heart - and your soul. Notice that when American troops at abu Graib wanted to do something REALLY humiliating and nasty to prisoners, they didn't force them to hand out hamburgers in the soldiers' mess hall. Instead, they stipped them naked and compelled them to do sexual acts. This suggests that we understand, at least on some level, that SEXUAL acts have the potential to be more humiliating - because they are more personal - than any ordinary, frustrating, mind-numbingly boring minimum wage labor.
Abi, I agree fully that the West is repressive of women just as Moslem countries are. Religious fundamentalists - Moslem and Christian - want to keep women under control and close to home. Liberal western cultures want to control women in the public sphere - yes, they may have careers, but their bodies are exploited for marketing purposes, and most liberal western men are enthusiastic about legalized prostitution, legal abortion, easy access to birth control, and lots of quick hook-ups. In other words, fundamentalists tend to focus on women's availability at home, liberal men tend to focus on women's public availabiity, but BOTH want women to be members of the sex caste and at their service.
Steve, You say that you are 50 and are not seen as attractive by most women you approach in bars. Then you go on to discuss your ideal prostitute, who is attractive and youthful. But YOU ARE NOT attractiveand youthful! I suspect you are trying to bed hawt young babes and then feeling frustrated by the rejection. Indeed, you mention that you often find you are expected to pay for things, which is what I have so often observed happening to middle-aged male friends who insist on trying to bag hawt young babes - these babes don't take them seriously and use them as sugar daddies if they bother with them at all. Duh! Meanwhile, women who are these men's peers, in years, experience, wisdom, and financial independence, women whose lovely bodies are rounded by childbearing and time and whose faces are creased by laugh lines are ignored by shallow, insensitive middle-aged men still focused on chasing the young girls. You can't get what you want without paying, Steve, because you are looking for all the wrong things.
P.S. to the BBC: These men don't sleep with prostitutes. This may seem like the polite, family-friendly way for the BBC to refer to it, but it also uses language to minimize what is really going on.
Have you ever in your life heard of a mother eating a bowl of cereal at 5:30 in the afternoon with no thought of feeding everyone else in the house?
Neither have I.
What I've learned from Katrina though is that while stories about horrible things can make me upset, angry, or sometimes tearful, it is random acts of selfless generosity that really make me cry.
The week of Katrina, I was staying in a hotel in Little Rock, Arkansas. There I met a family who had been stuck at the New Orleans Convention Center during Katrina and who had spent a few days exposed to the elements on the interstate. Back in New Orleans, the husband had built a little privacy shield and makeshift toilet for his wife, who told me that he also never left her side, as there had been rumors of rapes. Her mother explained to me that most of her family had disowned her daughter when she married because they are white and the husband is black. "But," she said, "look at how he cared for my daughter. I will never again let anybody question their marriage. I don't care what anyone says. He proved he is a good man." The family had arrived in Little Rock by bus, and I ended up spending a day helping them get assistance at the Red Cross, get prescriptions filled, etc.
At one point, we were lost and so we stopped at a 7-11 to ask for directions. A man in workman's overalls approached my car, which has a bumper sticker that says "New Orleans: Proud to Call it Home." "Are you from New Orleans?" he asked. When we affirmed that we were, he opened his wallet and offered my passenger some cash. She hesitated to take it, but I told her, "You need it. Look, people are watching the news every day and they're pissed, and they can't figure out how to make it right, so if somene wants to do something for you, you should let them." So she accepted. As we drove away, she began to sob. She hadn't cried before - not when we talked about our the state of our beloved city, not when she talked about running from the rising water, not when she told me about being without food and water at the Convention Center, not when she talked about the fear of being raped, not when she talked about losing everything and not even having clothes for her children or her prescriptions or even eyeglasses. And yet, she began to sob over being handed $20. After all, she said, "I am a hard-working person, you know. I've never taken charity from anybody before."
And I have seen this happen again and again. People don't cry so much over what they've lost. They're much more likely to cry over what they are given.
I remember when the Red Cross explained to a woman in Little Rock that her debit card could be used anywhere. "Oh, good," she said, "I need to get these children some school supplies." "No," I told her, "don't spend it on that. Didn't you hear? Wal-Mart is going to give you credit to spend on school supplies. Show them your Louisiana driver's license, and they will give you school supplies." Her eyes opened wide and she said, "You mean, I can get these children some pens and some notebooks? Really?" When the Red Cross volunteer affirmed what I'd said, the woman moaned, "Oh- Jesus-thank-you-Lord," her face crumpled up, and she began to sob.
Even now, I hear stories about angels coming to New Orleans to help and these are the stories that fill my eyes with tears. Human depravity and cruelty can sometimes make me cry. But what Katrina has taught me is that the depth of human generosity almost always makes us cry.
Our government has forgotten us. The media remembers us only on anniversaries. The presidential debates commission won't bring candidates to the scene of the government's crime. And still, still, angels from all over the United States keep on coming.
high school kids from Rockford, Maine
people from Missoula, Montana
cops from Michigan, New York, and Oklahoma are still coming here to rebuild cops' homes (see video of a big New Orleans cop brought to tears by the generosity of others)
It's strange to think that the same species capable of such evil (the only one that sometimes kills without reason, the only one that makes war and fights its own kind not just to establish dominance but to the death) is also capable of such generosity. What I've learned since Katrina is that it's the latter that is most likely to make us cry.
I've been following this story about how the Secret Service apparently gave up screening before all 20,000 attendees at a Dallas Obama rally had been checked for weapons. I'm glad, in a way, that this is finally being discussed because when Obama was here in New Orleans, at Tulane, I had some concerns about his safety, but I've hesitated to say anything (except I did come home and tell my husband). I was in the "overflow" crowd, meaning that not all of us got in, so Obama talked to us outside, before the actual speech. There was no screening of any kind and a crowd about ten persons deep was all that stood between me and the candidate. Since I am so short, I could only see the backs of people's heads, but had I been tall, like my husband, it would have been possible to aim over people's heads and...well, let's just say that I feel strongly that we should have been checked. I know he's doing these "overflow" crowds all over the country, and I worry about his safety.
So, yes, I am definitely for Obama now and have been for over a month. That's what I started out intending to write about. Go ahead and call me a member of a cult. I will laugh. Go ahead and call me a traiter to feminism. You might make me cry. But whatever else you say about me, say that, to paraphrase Dr. King, I really was a drum major for peace.
In the end, I chose the candidate who has always been against this war, even though I've longed to see a woman like me serve as president of my country, have wished for that every single day since, well, since I've been old enough to remember, since Congresswoman Lindy Boggs heard about how my teacher had told me I could aspire to be a nurse but not a doctor and the congresswoman knelt down, getting her navy stocking covered knees full of white dust, to hold my chin, look straight into my eyes, and tell me I could be anything I wanted to be. So, yes, I've wanted a woman president for so long. I know it isn't fair, that the patriarchy ensures that a woman who doesn't vote to go to war will be so marginalized that she will be unelectable, because she is already not-male, not macho, a wimp, a pussy, not to be trusted with manly matters like the defense of a nation. I know about patriarchy's double bind for Hillary Clinton, and the decision whether or not I could vote for her was torture for many months. In the end, I found Obama the best recipient of my vote, not because I'm part of a cult, not because I hate Hillary due to internalized oppression courtesy of the patriarchy, but because when I think of choosing a candidate, I close my eyes and can still feel the tight hug Cindy Sheehan gave me when I met her at Camp Casey the weekend of Katrina (she has the strongest, fiercest, and most unreserved hug, as if she's living through so much pain that she has abandoned unimportant stuff like shyness or self-consciousness), because, in the end, I want to be a feminist and a drum major for peace. I want to champion military women so that they don't get sent into "preemptive" wars. I want to champion working people, who overwhelming populate the military of the supposedly all-volunteer force, which is, in reality, a force that conducts conscription via race and poverty.
I think I've been faithful to those goals - and to feminism - in supporting Obama over Clinton. Still, reinforcement helps, like this video, which is in Spanish with subtitles, but which truly speaks the language of the heart:
"Si se puede cambiar" (yes, we can change)
For too long we've been sleeping
but we've been afraid to dream
daunted by the critics who tell us
that there is nothing we can reach...
but yes we can.
Today bombs fell on children
in an air strike south of Baghdad
how many have died because of lies
how did we lose our hearts
what was the purpose of this war
who profits from this injustice
who voted for this war
and who told us the truth
I know feminists council each other against giving out "cookies" to those who manage to do the right thing (meaning, recognize women as human beings deserving of respect and safety), but, you know, kudos to the company for being disgusted. A lot of disgusting, sexist ads do get published, so at least this company chose not to do so.
And something else that disgusts me and about which I'm sure I'm supposed to just lighten up is this video game in which women punch each women in the vagina (via feministing).
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
This video reminds me of the way men have treated me my whole life and it leaves me very angry.
They howl and yell when you walk down the street (my street harassment post is here) . They treat women like objects.
Monday, February 18, 2008
Meanwhile, the NBA brings in more people to finally get it, like Henry Abbott, who interviews player and Baton Rouge native Tyrus Thomas:
This is my first time in Louisiana, and I finally get how different it is from other parts of the United States. The people, the food, the music -- everything here is so rich.
I got off the plane yesterday, and it just felt so good to be home. I LOVE it. I don't think you can find a better place, honestly. These people are just so friendly. The crime rate is high, and the economy is not great, but the people are so good.
Seeing how people interact here, I bet Chicago can seem awfully cold.
I get a little frustrated sometimes. Here, if you speak to someone, and they don't speak back to you, it's almost like disrespect. Sometimes when I talk to strangers in other places they look at me like I'm doing something strange. That's hard to comprehend, the way I was raised.
And, finally, "suspect device" explains to a north Louisiana Repuke legislator that immorality is not electing "Barack Hussein Obama," nor is it electing "the wife of Monica's ex-boyfriend," but it is, rather, the war in Iraq, Gitmo, the failed Katrina response, spying, signing statements, and the assault on civil liberties. But "suspect device" says it way better!
Mr. Barkle, please meet exhibit 85,462.
Sunday, February 17, 2008
Also at that site are mold test kits for $40 and radon kits for $10.
We were supposed to go out for a belated Valentine's Day dinner next week. I wonder if I can persuade "teh huzzband" that a test kit is the gift I really want...
The "we could be famous" blog has the goods on toxic FEMA trailers.
Dear Mr. X,
My daughter is a student at X Junior High. On February 14, each student was given the opportunity to pay a dollar for the privilege of wearing a regular shirt to school instead of the usual uniform shirt.
I am very concerned about where these funds are going and about the use of the public school system to raise money to help buy an ultrasound machine for the Women's X Center. That organization clearly intends to use that machine to try to make desperate, pregnant women feel even more horrible about the difficult choices they face. According to its website, this group counsels women regarding "post-abortion syndrome." The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) reported in 2003 that "there is no evidence of an abortion-trauma syndrome." The American Psychological Association has found that"the weight of the evidence does not suggest a psychological hazard for most women." Furthermore, pro-life Surgeon General C. Everett Koop wrote in a letter to President Ronald Reagan summarizing the findings of his study that any psychological effectswere "miniscule."
You and I may agree or disagree. I am confident we agree, however, that this is a highly incendiary topic. I therefore think that it is inappropriate for such an organization to become the recipient of funds taken directly from the hands of schoolchildren, collected by teachers, and through so powerful an incentive as a uniform-free schoolday. I don't expect Planned Parenthood to benefit from schoolchildren's fundraisers. I don't expect Women's X Center to do so either.
Please note that the flyer this organization handed out to X Parish schoolchildren (attachment)contains a capitalization error ("for Mommies to see") and is also missing one needed apostrophe ("their babies heart beat"). Indeed, on the same day that my child came home with this flyer, she also came home with a study guide from one of her teachers, the latest in a shocking series of documents written by her teachers that have contained errors in spelling, punctuation, capitalization, and grammar. May I respectfully suggest that perhaps teachers' time spent encouraging blissfully innocent children to donate to a controversial cause and teachers' time spent at the front of the classroom actively encouraging children to attend a religious event during the schoolday (the recent "Just for Jesus" revival, December 5) might be better used for more important and pertinent matters, such as proofreading documents?
I look forward to hearing from you about the Valentine's Day fundraiser. Thank you,
(little ol' me)
Oh, my frickin' god, I am so pissed I am just shaking.
So, today, the kidlet tells me she needs a dollar for tomorrow. Her public school requires the kids to wear uniforms. She says her school is raising money to help buy an ultrasound machine and that they can get out of wearing the uniform tomorrow if they pay a dollar to help buy an ultrasound machine.
Now, as an advocate for women's rights who didn't fall off the turnip truck yesterday, I hear "fundraiser" and "ultrasound machine" and am immediately suspicious. I demand to see this note from the school.
The note, on bright red paper and with the heading "Helping Hands Help Beating Hearts!" confirms that they can get out of wearing their uniforms tomorrow, Valentine's Day, IF they pay a dollar. The money will go to "help purchase an ultrasound machine for Mommies to see and hear their babies heart beat. The Family X Clinic (formerly the Women's X Center) located in X appreciates your support!"
Skipping their poor grammar and capitalization skills for the moment, I went to the computer and googled this organization. And here 'tis:
They offer "life-affirming services" for women and "post-abortion syndrome counseling," along with this handy little explanation of what "post-abortion syndrome" is:
Oh, my f**king god!
Okay, I am in a little town outside New Orleans for now, and I know the culture is different from what I'm used to. I tried not to make waves when they sent out flyers inviting kids to a prayer gathering at the school flagpole one morning. I let my daughter go to a revival meeting all the kids were going to, and which was advertised with flyers taped to walls all over the school (I let her go because her friends were going and because I believe in letting her satisfy her curiosity and because I know she will have to deal with pressure from the Jesus freaks eventually; indeed, they had several nights of great rock concerts and then, on the last night they got her alone and pressured her to be "saved;" my kid, who is true to herself no matter the pressure, managed to get out of there without ever giving in to the pressure, before collapsing sobbing on the sofa when she returned home).
I said nothing when, on December 5, 2007, they had an EXCUSED absence day for kids who wanted to go to this cokehead-cum-preacher's tent revival for Jesus in Baton Rouge. The guy admits he holds the revivals during the school day, when he could hold them on weekends, because he is pushing the limits of a new Supreme Court ruling permitting some worship activities during school hours - all in the name of "freedom." So, my kid faced either going to their revival or having to go to school when everyone else got the day off and also being stigmatized as one of the few "non-Christian" kids in this place: ttp://www.justforjesus.tv/.
Funny but last I checked my state was in the bottom five in terms of student academic achievement, yet they gave out excused absences for a full schoolday with Jay-zus.
Two years ago, I found out late about the parish's efforts to segregate several schools by gender:
As the ACLU brief explains (ttp://www.aclu.org/images/asset_upload_file564_26286.pdf), they were not JUST going to have gender segregated public education here, but were going to rely on outdated stereotypes about the biology of gender to teach boys and girls differently. Girls, the training for teachers under the new program claimed, learn best by talking and being in groups. Girls hear better. Boys, the training for teachers said, learn best by doing. Boys should be active. They are wired for hunting prey. Boys who are not as active should be encouraged in group activities outdoors. When processing literature, teachers should ask girls how they would feel if they were the characters in the story, and not about the action; boys, on the other hand, must never be asked about their feelings and should, instead, be asked about the action. Teachers should smile and make eye contact with girls, but avoid eye contact with boys. Boys should be disciplined more harshly. Girls should be taught math and science differently from how boys are taught. Boys should be segregated from girls until they learn to control the "surging levels" of testosterone in their bodies (maybe we should keep women separate and in burkas, for their own protection, since teh menz can't help themselves, right).
The parish spent Louisiana taxpayer dollars on teacher training from this man at his "Gurian Institute," without ever checking his credentials:
As I wrote to the ACLU after they'd already won their temporary court reprieve (the current status is that the parish has simply backed off for a while as they wait for the furor to die down and regroup their legal strategies), I knew this guy personally when I lived in Washington State. The guy calls himself a "counselor." He appears on CNN and "Good Morning America" where anchors call him "Doctor" and fails to correct them. He has written a number of books on boys and girls (including one in which a friend of mine in WA is credited as a "research assistant" when all she did was show the dood how to use a word processing program). Although the Institute's webpage gives his partner's credentials in great detail (hers are relevant to the work they're doing), it is suspiciously light on his credentials. This is because, as I was able to prove to the ACLU simply because I knew the guy enough to know where to begin digging, he has a B.A. in Journalism and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing. Some gender expert, eh? He cherry picks his science in his books. It's a joke. Finally, he is what is called a "registered counselor" in WA State. A "licensed counselor" is someone with an actual education in therapy. A "registered counselor," on the other hand, is someone who 1) lives in WA State, 2) pays a registration fee to their Department of Health, and 3) works in the field of counseling, usually in an institutional setting, like a school or a prison (the latter is where Mr. Gurian apparently began his work as a "counselor"). You read that correctly. "Registered counselors" in WA are not required to have any particular training in therapy-related fields, any particular degree, or even be working towards such a degree. Anyone may receive the designation, including you or me. In fact, in 2007 WA State convened a task force to decide what to do about the designation, as it is so vague as to be potentially misleading (task force findings at: ttps://fortress.wa.gov/doh/hpqa1/hps7/Registered_Counselor/default.htm). When an R.C. counsels patients, he or she must get a signed waiver stating that the patient understands that this person may have no actual background as a therapist. So, Mr. Gurian has to get waivers from patients, under WA law, when he sees individuals, yet the state of LA paid him taxpayers' money to train several dozen Livingston Parish schoolteachers in his gender studies quackery, no waiver required (Mr. Gurian's registration with the state is here: ttps://fortress.wa.gov/doh/hpqa1/Application/Credential_Search/Profile_Results.asp?PCN=RC00017593&VID=5d46a7a82db4d84ea78bb46603b51ecc&SID=affd0243ac5922e9494a025f9412&PID=6).
The parish's gender segregated education plan was also heavily influenced by this guy, Leonard Sax:
My daughter has an auditory processing disorder! She has never, ever learned anything well by "hearing" or by being in groups. She learns by DOING, by getting up and creating, just like these idiots claim boys do. Their narrowly defined, gender restricted versions of teaching would have been a disaster for my daughter - and will be if they ever manage to implement it.
So, I have held back from being at war with this damn parish for two years now, but this is the final straw. Tomororow at 8, I call the head of the school board. I am also going back to my contact at the ACLU (with whom I corresponded about Mr. Gurian's dubious credentials, with that information to be used should the issue come up again) to ask for help with this completely out of control school district.
(links broken for a little discretion)
A quick thought for now is that I saw this ad for Breathe Right Strips in which a woman came towards a snoring man with a roll of thick masking tape in her hands.
Okay, now, reverse the roles for a moment. If you saw a man approaching a woman with a roll of thick masking tape, would you assume it was all just innocent and safe? Or would you be frightened for her and thinking that maybe she was in great danger?
So I thought of a few other role reversals. I thought of the Pepsi ad a few years ago in which Cindy Crawford tilts her head back to drink a Pepsi and a couple of prepubescent boys ogle her. What would people think if there were an ad with prepubescent girls ogling a grown man? Disturbing? I believe there would be outcry. In fact, I remember a diet Coke ad in which a group of office women gathers near a window at the same time each day to watch a beefy construction worker outside take his lunch break (that link says it was made in the 80s, but it was the 90s). I remember that conservative groups were outraged by that and that there was some public debate about the ad, including charges of reverse sexism (wow - it took a commercial with an objectified dood for people to notice that objectification is indeed what's going on in advertising). The one with Cindy Crawford, a grown woman, clearly being objectified and sexualized by little boys? Not a whimper from the "values" crowd.
Finally, last night I noticed an ad for Lazy Boy recliners. A woman walks into a furniture showroom and when the male sales associate tries to speak to her, it becomes clear that she is on a cordless cell phone headset. She speaks, but he eventually realizes it's to her telephone partner and not to him. As she moves past him to sit on the Lazy Boy sofa, he rolls his eyes behind her back. Eventually, she gives up the phone call and sounds like she is being sexually pleasured by sitting on this furniture.
So, question one, when have you ever seen a woman roll her eyes behind a man's back in a commercial? I've seen some commercials in which the woman is bossy in a way that stereotypes women, especially wives, as domineering bitches, but I realized last night that I've never seen one where a woman shares condescending body language with the viewer, engaging the viewer in a conspiratorial moment at the man's expense. I don't think we will ever see such an ad. As has so often been repeated, studies show that women's biggest fear in regard to men is that a man will kill them while men's biggest fear in regard to women in that a woman will laugh at them. Hence, I don't think we have seen or will see any eye-rolling by a woman (which for some reason reminds me of this story in which a man was in a bar and hit a woman "in self-defense" because she blew smoke in his face).
Second, have you ever seen an ad in which a man expresses pleasure over a product by moaning sexually? I've seen women screaming with pleasure over everything from food to shampoo (more at Faux News). We don't ever see men like that. Of course not. Everyone implicitly gets it that the men would look ridiculous.
For more on the male gaze, and to see some examples of role reversals and teh menz looking silly, see the male gaze slideshow. For more on gender in ads generally, see gender ads
By the way, from the Faux News article, linked above:
"Until relatively recently, until Dr. Ruth in the '80s, you didn't even talk about orgasms on TV. A lot of people didn't even know what a female orgasm was."
Well, speak for yourself there, Sparky. Did you figure out your orgasm without assistance? WTF???
After the segment was over, Wolf Blitzer mentioned to Jack Cafferty that the city was a great place. Cafferty said that he has been to New Orleans many times, both before Katrina and since, that his daughter graduated from Tulane this spring, and that "it's one of the greatest cities, not just in the U.S., but one of the greatest cities in the world. What has happened down there is not just a shame, but a crime." He was so angry that he actually got choked up when he got to the "it's a crime" part and turned his face away from the camera. Wow - crusty old white dude Cafferty nearly in tears over NOLA. Who would have thought??
Friday, February 15, 2008
As if outing a C.I.A. agent isn't bad enough, Novak now sets his soulless sights on New Orleans:
I spent two days here with Donald E. Powell, federal coordinator for Gulf Coast rebuilding, who conducts oversight on the remaking of New Orleans. Physical reconstruction is slow, and the city will never regain its former size or appearance. But civic leaders I met agreed that law enforcement, criminal justice, education and health care all are better than they were before Katrina. WaPoOHMYGOD! Did he actually say that? Did he? Law enforcement is BETTER? Yeah, just that little problem with having 2 to 4 murders every weekend (special report). Criminal justice is better? Volunteers follow cases via Court Watch NOLA, which reports:
Court Watch NOLA has monitored 300 cases in the New Orleans criminal justice system in its first four months. Only four of those cases went to trial and two were for the same case after a trial ended in a hung jury.
It gets worse, said Karen Herman, coordinator of Court Watch NOLA. More than 68 percent of the time, court watchers observed cases rescheduled for another day through continuances. "Turnover and attrition" within the district attorney's office were the primary cause of the delays, according to Court Watch.
Five of the eight prosecutors have quit the Violent Offenders Unit since Orleans District Attorney Eddie Jordan created it in March....
Herman, a prosecutor for eight years under former Orleans Parish District Attorney Harry Connick, said her return to Criminal District Court has been an eye-opener. She points to a case monitored by Court Watch NOLA that illustrates how the criminal justice system is failing the public.
Anthony Thomas was 17 years old when he was arrested Oct. 29, 2004, for armed robbery and carjacking. In the ensuing three years he was released from jail on bond and re-arrested three times without ever going to trial for 15 different offenses, including second-degree murder, possession of a stolen vehicle, possession of illegal firearms, flight from an officer and possession of marijuana, heroin and crack.
So, that's the D.A.'s side. What about the Public Defenders?
An angry New Orleans judge says he will release 42 criminal defendants on April 18 because they lack adequate legal representation.
Orleans Parish Criminal District Court Judge Arthur Hunter lashed out at the Louisiana Legislature for making a "mockery" of the criminal justice system and also warned that he will no longer appoint the beleaguered public defender's office to represent poor criminal defendants in court.
"Indigent defense in New Orleans is unbelievable, unconstitutional, totally lacking in the basic professional standards of legal representation and a mockery of what criminal justice should be in a Western civilized nation," he wrote in an order issued last week.
The judge, one of 12 in the Orleans Parish criminal courts, has been pushing for more than a year to reduce the pre-Katrina backlog of poor defendants who have been in jail awaiting trial without attorneys. He has suspended prosecutions, released four defendants charged with misdemeanors and ordered lawmakers and Gov. Kathleen Blanco to appear in his court to explain why they have not provided more money for the public defender system.
"The Louisiana Legislature has allowed this legal hell to exist, fester and finally boil over," Hunter wrote. more
Oh, but, my dear judge, funny little man in a robe, it can't be all that bad. Robert Novak says it isn't. And Novak knows his s**t.
Education is better now, Novak tells us.
Hmmm, well, that only leaves health care to be better post-K. Let's see. No ("more than 40 percent of adults in the New Orleans area have poorer healthcare access after Katrina than they had before the storm;" "70 percent of the adults without health insurance in Orleans Parish were African American;""among the most frequently reported health-access problems were deterioration in the ability to have health needs met now compared to before Katrina, difficulty in getting to a medical care center, and adapting to different medical providers after the storm;""the findings help explain why residents ranked getting medical facilities up and running as such a top priority only behind repairing levees and controlling crime"). No:
A major part of this reshaping of the city’s ethnic face and economic profile has been played out on the stage of the New Orleans public schools. The Bush administration and certain high level Louisiana government officials saw in the devastation of Katrina an opportunity to create a new national model of a ‘market based system of education’ that could replace the existing public school systems. To this end, state takeover legislation broke up the existing New Orleans Public Schools [NOPS], creating a balkanized patchwork of competing school systems, firing all of the teachers and staff in NOPS, and abrogating their collective bargaining agreement.
Eighteen of the best functioning New Orleans schools remained with a much smaller NOPS; two-thirds of these schools have been converted to charter status with NOPS as the authorizing agency. A recovery school district [RSD] run by the state Board of Education has responsibility for more than 20 schools, including the schools of last resort in this ‘market’ system, and is chartering more than 20 other schools. A number of charter school operators, including the Leona Group, KIPP, and several local universities, also run schools. Further, both NOPS and RSD have spun off a number of charter schools to an independent organization – the Algiers Charter School Association. The sheer number of competing entities creates much confusion among parents, students, decision-makers, community residents and the public in general. While these intermediary organizations multiply, New Orleans still has barely one-half of the public schools it possessed pre-Katrina....
A much larger group of schools, including most of the RSD, is struggling mightily. The State Board of Education and the RSD has failed to provide them with the most elementary tools of education. New Orleans teachers told me stories of their RSD schools that, two years after Katrina, had neither textbooks for their students nor teaching materials for their teachers. Many RSD schools were beset with serious environmental problems such as mold, mildew and rodent infestation. Other schools were still unable to deliver a proper lunch to their students. Having dismantled the pre-Katrina teaching force, forcing large numbers of them into retirement and into other Louisiana parishes for work, this experiment in market education has created a major teaching shortage in New Orleans, heavily concentrated in the RSD schools. During our June visit, many RSD schools still lacked a full complement of teachers. A recent UTNO-AFT report, No Experience Necessary, describes in detail the difficulties New Orleans public schools are now facing in attracting and retaining qualified, experienced teachers. Throughout the 2006-2007 school year, students were actually turned away from the RSD schools and denied their right to a public education because there are no seats for them in those schools and insufficient school teachers to teach them.
My colleagues visiting RSD middle and high schools saw large numbers of security guards, one posted virtually every 100 yards in its halls, but there is a grave shortage of counseling and mental health professionals in these same schools, as well as throughout New Orleans. [The ratio of students to security guards has gone from a pre-Katrina 333-to-one to a post-Katrina 37-to-one.] Knowing how important mental health services were for New York City public school students following 9-11, I was shocked that New Orleans students who were Katrina survivors were not receiving even minimal assistance. Our AFT colleagues in the New York State Psychological Association were part of our June visit to New Orleans, and are working with UTNO on this important front.
One target of the takeover legislation was United Teachers of New Orleans, a great union with a proud legacy as one of the first integrated teacher unions in the South and the very first teacher union in the South to win collective bargaining rights. UTNO had built itself into a powerful educational and political force in New Orleans, and union-busters in Washington DC and Baton Rouge saw in the post-Katrina reorganization of schools what they thought was an opportunity to destroy it. They eliminated by fiat its collective bargaining agreement....more, and see National Model or Flawed Approach: The Post-Katrina New Orleans Public Schools (pdf) and also Dismantling a Community and, to learn how this neocons' wet dream was planned well before Katrina, read Naomi Klein's "The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism.
Almost all of the patients are elderly and in some cases, bedridden. Those who can manage to get to a doctor often can't find one.Hell, I can't find anybody to see me in less than two months. I wish. My doctor now has a three month waiting list - and that's to reup my diabetes meds.
How would Lawson describe the state of health care in New Orleans? "It's still on the respirator," she says. "It's still in the ICU."
Two years after Katrina, the health care system in New Orleans is as dilapidated as many of the still-unlivable houses, reports CBS Evening News anchor and managing editor Katie Couric. Four hospitals remain closed, thousands of doctors have left, and a quarter of the adult population has no insurance.
"The hospitals in this area are literally hemorrhaging cash, hemorrhaging resources," says Dr. Kevin Jordan, chief medical officer at one of the few remaining hospitals. He says emergency rooms are even more overtaxed today because of the exodus of primary care physicians.
"You can wait anywhere from a month to a month and a half, two months to get a regular appointment, given that that doctor is willing to see you. Because remember, there's that much demand," he gestures with spreading arms, "and that much resource," he adds, closing the gap with his hands.
And speaking of mental health (we were, weren't we?):
Payne said the number of psychiatrists in the greater New Orleans area was reduced by 80 percent after Katrina. The higher cost of living and the risk of future hurricanes have made returning to New Orleans less attractive for most specialists.How about life in a FEMA trailer park? Mental health?
New Orleans' medical infrastructure was already top-heavy and not fully integrated with the mental health care system, Payne said, but after Hurricane Katrina "the entire health care system was literally dismantled."
"Now that all the children are stressed, we clearly don't have enoughmental health care providers," said Dr. Harold Ginzburg, a professor of clinical psychiatry at Louisiana State University and Tulane University, both in New Orleans. "Tulane's medical school went to Houston," he told CNS. more
"What's it like to live around here?" I asked. "Well," he replied, "I'll be honest. Ain't a day goes by when I don't think about killing myself."Well, it sounds good enough to me. You're right, Bobby Novak, it's all good; come on down!
According to a recent study of 92 different Katrina FEMA parks published in the Annals of Emergency Medicine, suicide attempts in Louisiana and Mississippi's parks are 79 times higher than the national average. Major depression is seven times the national rate.
When I first read those numbers, I found them hard to believe. But after three days at Scenic Trails, they made a lot more sense.
The residents there, in essence, are trapped. It is no longer possible for them to live outside the trailer parks. Prior to Katrina, most of the people who now live in the parks were renters.
Along the Mississippi coast, a family of four could rent a two- or three-bedroom apartment or small home for around $500 a month. But when the storm wiped the Mississippi coast clean, it took out all the housing infrastructure that supported these people. Most of them are minimum-wage workers who live paycheck to paycheck. Today, a two- or three-bedroom apartment in Hancock County, where Scenic Trails is located, costs $800, $900, even $1,000 a month. This is an impossible amount of money for the people who live in the parks, and there is no immediate end in sight. FEMA says it would like to close the parks, but state and federal government plans to rebuild low-income housing for Mississippi coast residents have yet to break ground. Housing experts says it will probably take years to produce enough low-cost housing to move people out of the parks.
And so they are stuck. And the place they are stuck is not the kind of place you would want to spend an extended amount of time. For two years, many have lived in travel trailers intended for weekend use. Families of four housed in a space the size of most people's living rooms.
Worse, as time wears on, the communities around them seem to be falling into a kind of madness. At Scenic Trails, almost everyone at the camp has been burglarized at
least once. Meth and cocaine addiction is rampant, and residents seem to be
turning against one another.
Recently, the park has seen a rash of animal mutilations. One resident told me that her cat had come home bleeding — a long, thin razor cut along its leg. Another resident said his dog's throat had been cut, and several people reported that someone in the camp had been feeding
anti-freeze to dogs. more
(yat pundit comments on this blog that the Times Picayune has apologized for the photo and says it was a snapshot that did not accurately reflect what happened; I wasn't clear about this, but I was less concerned about what Nagin was doing than I was about the suggestion, in the mayor's letter to the T.P., that the photo has already gone out to media outlets nationwide...thanks, y.p.!)
Meanwhile, the city continues to prostitute itself (and I use that term most deliberately). The NBA rents Jackson Square for the evening, for the price of $5000. Meanwhile, locals as well as Jackson's Square's usual cadre of vendors, street artists, tarot card readers, and fortune tellers have to leave the area. Did I mention it was just $5000? From the NBA? For their private, all-access pass to New Orleans' preeminent public space?
They are raising money for rebuilding projects, but even so, couldn't they - the "famous customers" of whom da Paper speaks - have held their party indoors, at one of the area's many convention halls rather than dragging heavy stages into Jackson Square and throwing artists, already struggling since Katrina, out of work for the duration?
As part of a four-day basketball showcase expected to produce major economic benefits for the city, the "2008 Celebration of Contribution" party is expected to draw a cadre of famous customers to merchants' shops along Jackson Square. But musicians, artists and tarot card readers who peddle their services on the square's slate-lined streets are crying foul, saying the party is leaving them on the sidelines during a potentially huge payday.
As crews got to work early Thursday setting up barricades along Decatur Street at St. Peter and St. Ann streets, dozens of entertainers found themselves ejected from park benches and removed from areas along the wrought-iron fences that typically
serve as art-for-sale galleries....
Sahuc said he objects in principle to City Hall renting out the area. Heavy equipment used in staging the party will damage the area's infrastructure, he said, and the event perverts the sanctity of the area formerly known as "Public Square."
"The city has been pimping the square, and we get nothing for it," Sahuc said. more
Meanwhile, prepare for Katrina, the Opera:
The opera focuses on two primary stories, each centering on a pair of characters and their experiences through the flood. The first tale of Miss Leah and the Debris Man depicts the scary and inventive ways people survived in the days immediately after the levee breaks.
"Debris Man becomes a shaman-like character, " Weigel said. "He knows how to survive on the street already and helps his neighbors."
Debris Man will be played by Cook himself, who saw the good that came out of people in his neighborhood because of the tragedy.
"There was an embracing of people, " Sylvester noted. "We haven't seen that in this country in a long time."
"Heroes became villains but villains became heroes, " Weigel said. "The drug dealers and pimps were keeping watch over the neighborhood and helping the old people there. When the guns and the cameras came out, so did the old stereotypes. Then they were pegged as thugs and looters."
I can't decide whether to be intrigued or afraid. Maybe I'll go check it out tomorrow night.
Oh, for god's sake, here's a "crying moment" I'd love to see the media tear apart (much more worthy of criticism than Hillary's little serious moment):
The head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency hates to get "sappy" in front of cameras, but he wants storm victims to know he's sorry that so many are still living in government-issued trailers more than two years after Hurricane Katrina hit.
FEMA Administrator R. David Paulison said Thursday that the agency will rush to relocate roughly 35,000 families after government tests found dangerous levels of formaldehyde fumes in many occupied FEMA trailers in Louisiana and Mississippi....
Critics have faulted FEMA for not responding sooner to concerns that its trailers could be jeopardizing the health of occupants.
During an interview after Thursday's briefing, Paulison defended the agency's response to formaldehyde concerns. But he admitted he could have done a better
job of expressing sympathy for storm victims who have spent more than two years
in the cramped trailers.
"I didn't want to get sappy out there in front of the cameras," Paulison told The Associated Press, "but the truth is that we really do care and we really are working hard to take care of the people's needs and get them out of these travel trailers and mobile homes."
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said fumes from 519 tested trailers and mobile homes in Louisiana and Mississippi were, on average, about five times what people are exposed to in most modern homes. Formaldehyde, a preservative commonly used in construction materials, can lead to breathing problems and is also believed to cause cancer.
The findings stirred worry and anger across the Gulf Coast, where FEMA is already a dirty word and housing has been scarce since Hurricanes Katrina and Rita struck in 2005.
"Am I angry at FEMA? Of course I am. They should have started moving people out of these trailers once they first started finding problems," said Lynette Hooks, 48. She said that since she began living in her trailer outside her damaged New Orleans home in October 2006, she has suffered headaches and sinus problems, in addition to the asthma she had before...
As early as 2006, trailer occupants began reporting headaches, nosebleeds and difficulty breathing.
But as recently as last spring, a FEMA spokesman said the agency saw no reason to question the safety of its trailers. Just last month, congressional investigators accused FEMA of suppressing and manipulating scientific research to play down the danger — an accusation the agency denied. more
I'm amazed that this hasn't been a bigger topic of discussion in public health since before Katrina. For years, I've known that I have itchiness, allergies, and breathing difficulties after being in stores that sell clothing. I've also known for several years that I become ill in new buildings - the brand new movie theater made me sick every time I visited it when I lived in WA State, and the new law library at Gonzaga left me too red-eyed, itchy, and breathless to study. I researched the topic and quickly found that formaldehyde and other chemicals used in the wood and carpet of new buildings as well as on new clothes is an irritant. I find it so hard to understand how the federal government didn't know anything about this general public health issue until Katrina. I also wonder what chemicals might still be affecting my health here in this ten year old mobile home. Dog knows I'm tired all the time. Maybe it's that, maybe something else.
Notice also that Paulison says he "could have done a better job expressing sympathy." Yes, because it's not about action down here, just perception, yes indeed.