Razing the Project to Save It

by matttbastard

broadmoorpolaroid1

(Photo by Infrogmation, used under a GNU Free Documentation License)

With the advent of a new administration in Washington providing the long-beleaguered citizens of New Orleans, LA a new sense of hope (no doubt increased upon hearing that the President has promised to visit the region) it’s easy for us to forget (too easy to forget) that there are still thousands of residents still displaced from their homes, perhaps permanently.  And, if decisions like the following continue to be made (purportedly on their behalf *cough*) many will have f0rever lost what little remains:

A judge didn’t abuse his discretion when he refused to halt the demolition of four public housing complexes in New Orleans that were damaged by Hurricane Katrina, a federal appeals court has ruled.

A group of displaced public housing residents had asked U.S. District Judge Ivan Lemelle in June 2006 to block plans to demolish and redevelop the B.W. Cooper, C.J. Peete, St. Bernard and Lafitte developments. Lemelle denied their request, a ruling upheld Monday by a three-judge panel from the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans.

[…]

Three developments have been totally razed, while the demolition of the fourth is under way. The demolition project spawned a round of demonstrations in New Orleans, including a December 2007 melee at City Hall where police used pepper spray and stun devices to disperse a crowd of protesters.

[…]

“Numerous reports showed that the buildings were obsolete, dilapidated, and unsuitable for housing purposes,” Judge Emilio Garza wrote in the court’s 14-page opinion.

Yes, so, in order to save these projects, these people’s homes,  let’s completely raze them to the ground.  Because no buildings are so much more suitable for living in. Sorry, but, “comparable housing” is not remotely adequate (let alone, er, comparable) when “redevelopment plans leave several thousand families without access to affordable housing [emph. mine].”

Loyola University professor Bill Quigley highlights the bottom line this decision once again underscores:

“At this moment, (the 5th Circuit is) saying that the tragedy to these 5,000 families from Katrina is permanent,” Quigley said. “The fight has always been whether these 5,000 families get to come back to some sort of public housing in New Orleans. The position of the government has been that they don’t.”

The dizzy counterspin from HUD’s spokesmonkey is particularly nauseating:

“This ruling is a win for the families who will return to new, socially and economically integrated neighborhoods, and it’s a win for the city of New Orleans because of the affordable housing component of each of the new developments.”

Yes, well, what about those families who, um, won’t return to ‘socially and economically integrated neighbourhoods’? How can losing everything all over again, having their dreams razed along with their fucking homes even begin to count as a victory?  Even George W. Bush wouldn’t have the fucking nerve to hastily throw up a ‘Mission Accomplished’ banner behind this one.

Unfortunately there isn’t much one can do to affect court decisions.  But one can pressure Congress to allocate desperately needed funding for NOLA and draw attention to a situation that has been allowed to fester below the radar for far too long. Sarah J notes that “Senators Mary Landrieu and David Vitter have requested funding for “more than $6 billion in coastal restoration and levee construction projects in an economic stimulus bill now moving through Congress”“, making it even more important that Americans contact their Congresscritters and demand that, as the US moves towards revitalizing delapidated national infrastructure, the people of NOLA are not forgotten ever again by their government, their fellow citizens.

As I wrote in comments @ Alterdestiny:

“[W]e… need to purge the guilt and start doing something proactive. Poppy Z. Brite’s powerful 2006 Banned Books Night speech is even more pertinent, more vital, today:

If you live here, stay and give it all you can. If you live elsewhere, please don’t let people forget us. Don’t let your government forget us. Tell them to put money into wetlands restoration, to give us the levees we were told we already had, to rebuild the homes and businesses destroyed by their lying negligence. Tell them we are as valuable as The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn or A Confederacy of Dunces or A Streetcar Named Desire. Tell them those three banned and cherished books would never have existed without us. Tell them we will never die easy, and if we do die, we will be the most haunted place in the world.

NOLA has not yet been completely “banned”, as Brite devastatingly characterized it, but it won’t be fully re-enfranchised unless we increase the pressure on Washington.

Je me souviens.

(Major h/t and heartfelt thanks to Sarah J for links and inspiration.)

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On John Edwards ‘Love Child’

by matttbastard

“Double standard!” cries Slate media critic Jack Shafer.  “An elaborate cover up!” whines hacktacular OG ‘even the liberal’ blogger Mickey Kaus.  ‘Liberal bias!’ wails the wingnutosphere (surprise, surprise).

All that self-righteous sturm und drang simply because the MSM hasn’t dove on recent reports from that bastion of responsible journalism, The National Enquirer, alleging that former Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards cheated on his wife, Elizabeth, with a woman named Reille Hunter.

Oooh.  Shocking.  A liberal Democrat with no moral values–way to conform to years of movement conservative propaganda, John Boy.

Sorry, kiddies; as John Cole aptly notes, the Grand Old Party has upped the ante on sex scandals to the point where a mere (yes, heterosexual) extramarital affair (and illegitimate child) is now small beer, not worthy of the print expenditure:

The reason no one is paying attention to the alleged affair and love-child is simple. You guys have made standard affairs boring (I know, I know. You claim to be a Democrat.). No one is claiming Edwards was seen in two wetsuits hanging from the ceiling with a dildo lodged in his rectum. There is no DC madam with a black book involved. No one has transcripts of him instant messaging teen-age congressional pages or crashing their dorms in a drunken stupor. There is no arrest record for soliciting oral sex in an airport bathroom, complete with feisty confrontations with the arresting officer on video tape. There is no religious hypocrisy and gay prostitution and meth-fueled sodomy binge to talk about.

In short, aside from the fact that all there is to the story is an Enquirer report, it is just boring. You all have made standard affairs pedestrian and dull. Even when you use the phrase “love child,” what it boils down to is a guy allegedly sleeping with a woman. Pretty tame stuff, given what the GOP has provided us for the past few years.

Now maybe if he got caught engaging in oral sex with goats. That would probably get some attention.

I think there’s something to be said about the innate homophobia contained within media coverage of the aforementioned events. But the hook that made them ‘newsworthy’ by mainstream press standards is the fact that, in most instances, the principals were all on record as being militantly homophobic Christian conservatives; their moral (and, in many cases, legal) transgressions were thus in direct opposition to their images and records as public officials.  Even former NY governor Elliot Spitzer was a grandstanding anti-prostitution crusader, so when he was caught in the middle of a prostitution ring, the immensity of the hypocrisy was too much for the jackals in the MSM to ignore (even as the puritanical response once again served as a revealing Rorschach Test of the collective American unconscious).

So, unless there’s more blood to this latest (alleged) ‘scandal’, one shouldn’t be surprised (nor shocked and outraged!!11one) at the underwhelmed non-response from the press.

Of course, as David Corn notes, even if this story never makes the 24 hour cable news cycle, the allegations have effectively removed Edwards from VP consideration:

[W]hether you read about this matter in the Times or not, the veep-vetters of the Obama campaign have probably paid the story notice. If Edwards is still in contention, he better have for them a rather convincing denial to allay suspicions that this time the scandalmongers of the Enquirer might have actually gotten it right.

Regardless, one wonders if the McCain campaign really wants the media to be talking about political figures running around behind the backs of their sick wives.

Ahem.

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1st Annual Golden Duke Award Winners!

by matttbastard

Congratulations to all the *ahem* winners, especially Larry Craig and Bob Allen–I hope they can hear me tapping my toes (in lieu of applause). Here’s to 2007, brethren–warts and all. As for 2008, it can’t get any worse, eh?

Of course, I’ve been expressing similar sentiments for the past 7 years…

sigh.

Related: TPM´s Great List of Scandalized Administration Officials.

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