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Archives for Katrina

Black and White


Wanna get even more upset that you already are? Sad to say, it’s not too hard.
Go over and read Andrew Sullivan’s site. Read the comments that the President of the United States made about how we’re going to get a better Gulf Coast out of this mess. Why a better Gulf Coast? Because, the president said, folks who have flood insurance to protect their homes – and pay to restore those homes – will be able to build nicer homes. He wasn’t that explicit, of course. And he was making a “joke.” And, to add insult to injury, he’s talking about? Sen. Trent Lott. You know, the guy who wanted to “make a 100-year-old man feel good” by endorsing Sen. Strom Thurmond’s policies on racial segregation. Seems the president is counting on Sen. Lott to build a nicer front porch than the he had before Katrina rolled through town.
That’s the kind of unthinking banter that sets a tone for even dumber – and more dangerous – conversations. A friend – one who has the patience I don’t to listen to talk radio – says there’s a ‘racially veiled” conversation going on about why so many New Yorkers were heroes after 9/11 and so many New Orleans residents are looters.
Huh? There was looting after 9/11. It was reported, too by William Langewiesche in The Atlantic Monthly. He wrote about stacks of blue jeans – lifted from the retail shops below the World Trade Center – found sitting in fire trucks.
His account was greeted with outrage. The firefighters of New York, led by the widow of biologist and media darling Stephen Jay Gould shouted Langewiesche down.
The nice hardworking, near starving black folks of New Orleans don’t have any a well-connected widow to speak for them. So lots of us white folks are sitting and “wondering” why New Orlean is “filled” with looters and New York — and its white, unionized fire fighters — are all shining heroes.
Do you think it’s the white horses they road in on?

Posted by Chris Nolan at 3:47 PM | Permalink

Black and White


Let’s talk about race.
It’s just us white folks, of course. ‘Cause this is a white folks’ site; built by a white girl for her people.
That’s not the description that you’d apply, of course. You being white. But imagine if this site were run by a black woman. Well, that’d be different wouldn’t it? You might take it a bit less seriously. You might think about this site as a way to get a black girl’s perspective, not necessarily the broader thoughts and comments of someone who is interested in politics and culture.
Now don’t fib. You might. You might not. But I’m betting you would. You – we white folks – would characterize the work here differently because of what we know and assume about the person doing that work.
And that, my friends, is just the beginning of the problem we’re having with the images and sights we’re seeing from New Orleans. I was reminded last night – watching the half-hour of footage of frustrated, unhappy, desperately frightened people gathered at the New Orleans Convention Center and Superdome – of the rueful remark a local San Franciscan made to me a few years ago. We were talking about the urban “renewal” of the Fillmore and a neighborhood known as the Western Addition, a once thriving black community in the north central part of town.
“Anytime white poeple see a bunch of black folks living together, they assume it’s a slum and try to figure out a way to tear it down,” he said. Now, San Francisco is the site of the one the epic legal battles over urban renewal in the mid-1960s. The city’s black community banded together and stopped some – but not all – of what was planned. The result? A displacement of an entire community. The reward? Justin Herman, the architect of all that “renewal” has a landmark plaza in the city named for him and, one assumes, his good work.


Posted by Chris Nolan at 12:09 PM | Permalink



As you’re reading the morning headlines and looking at the pictures, please take a minute to read, if you have not already, Josh Trevino’s piece about Nicaragua after Hurricane Mitch. The idea that water could wash away the land around a 15-foot well, turning it from a tunnel in the ground into a tower in the air, should give you pause.
And if have not made a donation to the Red Cross, please consider doing so. If you have not given blood recently, please consider doing so. The Red Cross site has a list of places in your area to make donations.
Here in San Francisco, Jewish Family and Community Services is coordinating donations.
Here are some links that Instapundit Glenn Reynolds has put up. He is updating them regularly.
Here’s the deal: The storm moved north, the Mississippi flows south. So rain to the north is going to run back into Mississippi and Alabama. It’s geography.
And even though flood waters may recede, the mud – and the damage – will be heavy and thick and filled with things you don’t want to think about. There will be no drinking water for many people through out Mississippi and Alabama for many, many weeks. Many people will lose their homes forever; the city of New Orleans will never be the same.
Residents are going to have to deal with a host of problems, among them threats from contaminated water that go by quaint old-fashioned names like cholera and typhoid. On top of that, there’s the heat. And the damage that heat and water can do.
And don’t forget that New Orleans and the Gulf Coast are resort communities: this Labor Day weekend would have been a busy one for many of the folks working in the hotels and restaurants along the seashore. Many of those jobs are gone, too. Gone for a long time.
So if you can, please give.

Posted by Chris Nolan at 10:46 AM | Permalink

Hitting Below the Belt


It’s a little premature to feel truly sorry for Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist. But since he is fast moving from being a bit of a dope to the punching bag of the U.S. Senate, I guess we can take a few minutes, before he becomes a complete joke, to give his dying political career its due.
First, President Bush — who helped Frist get the job of Senate leader — asks Sen. Movie Star, former Senator Fred Thomas to help run the Judge John Roberts’ Supreme Court nomination. That was after Frist couldn’t figure out how many votes he had on John Bolton’s nomination. The answer: not enough. And that was after Sen. John McCain stepped in to the role Frist should have taken to negotiate a compromise on the filibuster and the judicial nomination process. And let’s not forget Sen. Arlen Specter and his insistence — just by showing up in all his ailing glory — that stem cell research is something the federal government out to fund. Oh yeah, and Terry Schiavo.
Now comes former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott. And he ain’t happy either. Just as Frist is getting ready to return to a Senate that he leads in name only, Lott is stepping up with a new message of moderation and cooperation. It isn’t just a challenge to Frist, it’s a challenge to the White House and the way Republicans have been conducting business on Capitol Hill for the past three years.


Posted by Chris Nolan at 10:39 AM | Permalink

Leaving Well Enough Alone


You know what I miss? Media circuses run by the media, for the media.
A bunch of guys — it’s always mostly guys ’cause they tote the cameras — standing around telling jokes, cracking wise and generally treating the spectacle as what it is: A show.
The rest of us come and go, sizing up the competition, rumor-monger, gossip, look for jobs, trade horror stories about editors or sources, or just catch up on old times. We drink too much coffee, annoy the nice folks who brought it to us and pay — happily — inflated hotel bills ’cause it was all going on Tony or Pinch or Kaye’s tab. New Hampshire during the week before the primary is a good example; or it used to be before every TV station with 10 minutes on the bird sent a blond and two heavy-set tech guys.
But these days, it seems, it is fashionable — on both sides of the political aisle — to have participatory media circuses. The idea seems to be who can out-spectacle the other side with media coverage, hangers-on, catering trucks and time on the ‘blogs, the airwaves or the papers. At the beginning of the summer, the Right had Terry Schiavo. Now, we here on the Left have Cindy Sheehan.
And I have a sinking feeling — you know, being a Democrat these days is to live with a constant sinking feeling — that the Left is screwing up. Sheehan is an impassioned defender of her point of view. She has lost a son and while a lot of others don’t think that gives her moral authority of any sort, it does. It’s foolish to argue otherwise. Cindy Sheehan is not behaving logically. She is protesting. And she has a right to do so.
But she should remain alone in her protest. Her loneliness makes her plight and her determined decision to camp in Crawford even more eloquent. Alone, Cindy Sheehan appears to be what she truly is: inconsolable. So when I read that Fenton Communication, the folks who help MoveOn, was in on the game, I got nervous. When I heard that a wealthy LA mother of my acquaintance was heading to Crawford — her kids are in camp, I guess she wants to go, too — I started to twitch.


Posted by Chris Nolan at 11:18 AM | Permalink

The Scent of Victory


John Bolton got sent to the United Nations without the U.S. Senate’s approval. President Bush is saying that “intelligent design” ought to be taught in schools so people can be aware that there’s more than one theory on evolution and, on top of that, he’s going to veto any legislation that supports federally funded stem cell research.
It seems like the Bush Administration has declared war on the U.S. Congress, doesn’t it? It sure does. Particularly if, like most Americans, you think stem cell research is a good idea, you’re pretty sure evolution is a viable scientific theory and well, you’re beginning to think the invasion of Iraq wasn’t such a good idea.
It’s not quite enough to make me feel sorry for the men and women in the Republican party on Capitol Hill who bought into this sort of nonsense because they were thinking that social conservatives were the future of the party. They are not its future. They are its present. To a man – a white man – they are Republicans and they are going to stay Republicans.


Posted by Chris Nolan at 5:23 PM | Permalink

News Flash: Senate Majority Leader Grows Backbone


Wow. Sen. Bill Frist got a spine transplant. Man. This modern medicine is pretty powerful stuff, huh? Particularly when it’s served up with a dose of political ambiton and fear.
The Senate Majority Leader has – finally! – woken up and realized that his job is to lead the United States Senate, not to take orders or dictation from the White House. As such, he’s decided to follow the (increasingly powerful) moderate wing of his party and work to pass a bill that would allow federal funding for some kinds of embryonic stem cell research. Why? ’cause that’s what the legislative branch of the party he’s supposed to lead wants to do.
But Frist always wants to have it both ways. The kicker comes near the end of this New York Times story.

In his speech, Mr. Frist seemed to adopt that line of reasoning, harking back to a set of principles he articulated in July 2001, before the president made his announcement, in which he proposed restricting the number of stem cell lines without a specific cutoff date. At the time, he said the government should pay for research only on those embryos “that would otherwise be discarded” and today he similarly supported studying only those “destined, with 100 percent certainty, to be destroyed.”
Moreover, he said, “Such funding should be provided only within a comprehensive system of federal oversight.”…
[The legislation currently proposed] “lacks a strong ethical and scientific oversight mechanism,” does not prohibit financial incentives between fertility clinics and patients, and does not specify whether the patients or the clinic staff have a say over whether embryos are discarded. He also says the bill “would constrain the ability of policy makers to make adjustments in the future.”


Posted by Chris Nolan at 10:26 AM | Permalink

Grand Theft Autopilot


Hillary Clinton. I may not make it through to 2008 if Sen. Hillary Clinton appoints herself titular Democratic Party nominee. And she clearly has.
See, I’m going to have to vote for her. I’m a Democrat. And I’m going to have to support her candidacy. ‘Cause I happen to share her gender and, yeah, I’d like to see this country elect a woman president and, honestly, she can probably win. As my conservative friends say: No one ever made any money betting against Bill and Hillary Clinton. No one. Except, my conservative friend reminds me, Roger Clinton.
But those are the only reasons to support her and, honestly, they’re not good enough.
‘Cause after the former First Lady gets into the West Wing on an official-like basis, I’m going to have – we are going — to have to listen to all her Clinton-esque BS – that’s redundant, isn’t it? – about how she’s really a Liberal or a Centrist or a believer in the meaning of politics or whatever baloney she and the husband cook up to satisfy all their funders and supporters. The Clintons are Corporate Democrats. They run their campaigns like they’d run – if they’d gone into business, not politics – a big huge corporation. In an age of Big Media and Big Corporate Planning, that was a great strategy. But it’s out of touch – way out of touch – with where the party should be going in the future.
So after Hillary gets elected, we’re going to watch her ignore the development of a sound foreign policy for this country – just like her husband did – and we’re going to have to squirm and protest as she tries to figure out how to be a “free market” Democrat while placating the unions and ignoring the impact of globalization on U.S. foreign and domestic policies. And I’ll have to listen to her twaddle about making abortion “rare” – you know, conservative Republicans have kind of taken care of that if you’re young, poor and happen to live in the ‘wrong’ state – and birth control more available. Or listen to more crap about how a video game – one of a well-know and well-established series built for young adult men whose tastes dominate the video game business – should be banned, amended or have its sales restricted. Only someone as out of touch as the grandma who bought the thing for her 14-year-old could worry that Grand Theft Auto was for a child. You see what I’m saying?


Posted by Chris Nolan at 11:22 AM | Permalink

Frame This


Everybody else on the Leftie side of the house has chimed in on The New York Times magazine piece on “framing” and George Lakoff and, well, I’m sorry but I can’t leave this alone.
A bunch of Democrats are quoted in this capable story by Matt Bai as thanking “framing” – which seems to be a new, fancy way to describe the ability to put issues in language that some how is super resonating with voters – for their recent victories. What victories? Say you, sensible reader.
Well, the defeat of the Republican move to remove the filibuster from the Senate and the stuttering defeat – it’s done, no one’s said anything yet – of President Bush’s plans to reform Social Security.
The Democrats say they have these victories because they are “framing” Republicans as office-holders who abuse their power.
Yeah. Right. I think it’s more like Republicans really are abusing their power (Terri Schiavo, anyone?) and – for once – Democrats are taking note of that fact, loudly and publicly. I mean, look, the reason the press went along with the White House scenario about Iraq – and the lies that accompanied it – is because there was no real, substantive criticism of that war coming from the Democrats in the U.S. Congress. Howard Dean was the anti-war candidate, not John Kerry.


Posted by Chris Nolan at 2:06 PM | Permalink

Fantasy Island


Have you noticed that this site is a Karl-Rove-free zone?
Why? The raging summer controversy over Rove’s role in identifying Valerie Plame Wilson as a CIA agent is of great and massive interest to many, many people I know and respect as journalists. It is of no interest whatsoever to anyone living outside the Washington, D.C. beltway or off the island of Manhattan. It is a high-stakes game of inside baseball gone public. And it is boring.
It is boring because it is predictable. Even I have been having trouble getting interested in this mess. It’s that much of an inside game. Of course, Rove was the source. And of course he denied it. And of course the White House is embarrassed. But this whole mess is just another good example of why most folks think that the national press and politicians deserve each other. They see the Rove controversy as a family spat that will be settled in time for everyone to make nice at the family Christmas party. A pox on both their houses, is the thinking.
They’re right. The Affair Rove is a perfect example of how Big Media and politicians in elected office – regardless of party – feed off each other. No one individual is at fault here. It’s a corrupt system nurtured in part by systemic weaknesses in the media business, weaknesses that can be disguised by reciting supposedly absolute rules about sources, or information or how we do our jobs. The only absolute in this business is that there are no absolutes.
Here’s an example of what’s true: In spinning Time writer Matt Cooper, Karl Rove was doing his job, he was dissing a critic of the administration going to a rival publication – Time magazine – to throw a little dirt on the New York Times editorial board. Cooper had to have born this in mind when he sent a memo to his editors saying that Rove had spoken to him on “double secret” background. That’s ridiculous — Cooper was putting Rove’s name in the memo for anyone to see and read. But Cooper, too, was doing his job: Telling his boss what the White House thought of former Ambassador Joe Wilson’s New York Times op ed piece and “warning” them about that editorial. Was Rove being sleazy? Yes. How about Cooper? Well, he was showing off, that’s pretty clear. But both men were doing their jobs, playing their roles; that of powerful insiders, armed with information unavailable to the outside world. To some extent, they’re still at it.


Posted by Chris Nolan at 11:07 AM | Permalink

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