My God…the KPBS Google map of the San Diego fires gives a frightening picture of how bad things are out there. For anyone who hasn't followed the story over the past few days, it's an eyeful to see the areas of the blaze grow as the map loads.
Here’s some good news. Clinton and Obama both joined in support of Dodd’s filibuster of the telecom immunity and wiretapping bill yesterday. Apparently, whatever Chris Dodd risked in the Senate by putting a hold on the bill and threatening to filibuster if Reid chose to ignore it has begun to pay off.
Clinton’s statement included this:
Q: Can you discuss your position on the
reauthorization of the FISA bill?
HRC: I am troubled by the concerns that have been
raised by the recent legislation reported out of the
Intelligence Committee. I haven't seen it so I can't
express an opinion about it. But I don't trust the
Bush Administration with our civil rights and
liberties. So I'm going to study it very hard. As
matters stand now, I could not support it and I
would support a filibuster absent additional
information coming forward that would
convince me differently.
It's a little Clintonesque, complete with qualifiers everywhere, but it's great to see that the issue has enough traction that both of the frontrunners have decided to back Dodd up on resisting re-authorization.
Since we’ve been doing a lot of thinking about New Orleans and the Gulf Coast lately, I thought it might be helpful to readers to link to some fresh perspective on the rebuilding effort there generally. Beyond Katrina is fine blog to visit on the subject. Generally, the group blog is a wealth of information about post-Katrina info on the Gulf Coast (I will say the site crashed my Safari and Firefox browsers repeatedly, but hopefully that will be a transitory issue there).
A recent post at Beyond Katrina highlighted the role of non-profits in the rebuilding effort. Most reports from the area praise religious and other non-profit groups, while also noting the lackluster and confused response from government. The recent election of an outsider as the new Governor of Louisiana probably has a lot to do with citizens’ feelings about government generally. This excerpt ends with a telling note about government (bold section-my emphasis).
The Public Affairs Research Council of Louisiana and
the Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government today
released a report on the important role the nonprofit
community has played in hurricane recovery efforts
across Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. GulfGov
Reports:Response, Recovery, and the Role of the
Nonprofit Community in the Two Years Since Katrina
and Rita examines the role of the nonprofit sector in the
…even the most efficient, well-run, well-funded nonprofit
group has a limited reach. For all of the work that the
nonprofit sector has done and continues to do in the
hurricane recovery effort, it is still more akin to a drop in
the bucket rather than a giant wave.
The scale of the devastation is so vast in Louisiana and
across the Mississippi Gulf Coast that only government
has the capacity to handle significant rebuilding. The
role of the nonprofit sector was not meant to replace
government as the primary driver of the recovery.
Rather, it was to buttress the governmental response, to
fill in the gaps. For the recovery to proceed in a timely
and substantial way, government must take the lead
while nonprofit, community-based, and faith-based
organizations play a strong supporting role with their
focus on the human element of any disaster.
"If things haven't changed by our next visit, we may have to announce a revolution," the former head of the Soviet Union mused as he walked the streets of the devastated neighborhood recently.
One of the continuing stories we follow on this site is the avoidable, continuing, and constantly compounding tragedy of New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. While the entire Gulf Coast was shellacked by the huge storm in 2005— and while many areas of Mississippi and Louisiana have also been woefully underserved and forgotten by the Federal government in its wake (see Don and Leslie Wilson’s fine film, Mississippi Son), the most inundated and affected area was and continues to be the City of New Orleans.
The canal break and levee toppings there were the product not just of a hurricane, but of government neglect and under-funding, neglect continued in spite of dire warnings of the potential consequences of leaving the canals and levees in the condition Hurricane Katrina found them. The immediate aftermath of the Hurricane is still all-too-familiar to most of us— and is certainly one of the most shameful episodes in the annals of the Bush Administration. The way New Orleans’ residents were left to fend for themselves—even blamed by some in the media and on the Right for their own tragic misfortune— left much of the world wondering how such a thing could occur in the planet’s most powerful country.
The flood has been followed not just by a huge recovery project, but by over two years of bureaucratic mismanagement and callousness, broken promises, and implicitly racist dismissals of the ability of New Orleans’ largely African American population to pull itself out of the post-disaster devastation, if properly supported with aid programs. Some pundits have even thrown out the idea that New Orleans wasn’t worth rebuilding. Imagine if major media personalities had floated such an idea about New York after 9/11.
One of the many Lower Ninth Ward families working hard to rebuild after Katrina has recently had it even harder than their neighbors. As readers here know, we’ve been highlighting the story of the Kellie Joseph household’s plight. We’re taking part in an effort to focus attention and internet fundraising strength on their Herculean task of rebuilding one NOLA home yet again, for a family that saw all their hard work literally go up in flames last month.
Here’s the Good News:
We’re pleased to report that the first $10,000 has already been successfully raised to start the reconstruction of the Josephs’ home after a fire that burned down their 80%-finished structure in September. It’s been only just a few weeks since some intrepid medical students at Tulane University, NOLA area officials, local journalists, and lately, a small but growing cadre of progressive bloggers have taken up the cause of the Joseph Family. Please pass the word through your blogs and visit the website of the Rebuilding Fund. Send your own donation and your personal greetings to Kellie and her family. Let them know we won’t ignore them.
Together, we can make a big difference for one family. It won’t change the big picture in the Lower Ninth Ward by itself, but the world is a funny place. Sometimes, you put some love, some pennies, and some courage on the table—and bigger things come of it.
"Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-West Virginia) is
reportedly steering the secretive Senate
Intelligence Committee to give retroactive
immunity to telecoms....
"Top Verizon executives, including CEO Ivan
Seidenberg and President Dennis Strigl,
wrote personal checks to Rockefeller totaling
$23,500 in March, 2007. Prior to that
apparently coordinated flurry of 29 donations,
only one of those executives had ever
donated to Rockefeller....
"In fact, prior to 2007, contributions to
Rockefeller from company executives at
AT&T and Verizon were mostly non-
existent. But that changed around the same
time that the companies began lobbying
Congress to grant them retroactive immunity
from lawsuits seeking billions for their alleged
participation in secret, warrantless
surveillance programs that targeted
A h/t to D. Cupples at Buck Naked Politics, who culled this information from Wired. The data is originally from the Center for Responsive Politics.
The campaign to help rebuild the twice-destroyed home of Kellie Joseph in New Orleans’ Lower Ninth Ward is reporting some success. In one single day recently, about $3,000 was pledged by blogosphere readers alone to her family’s fund.
Let’s dig deep folks— to show that it’s not just politicians who benefit when you use the power of the net to get involved.
For anyone new to the Joseph’s post-Katrina story, their nearly rebuilt home was burned to the ground recently after car thieves burned a vehicle in their driveway, taking the entire home with it. More than two years after the hurricane swept through New Orleans, Kellie Joseph’s family was getting close to moving back home, but must now start from scratch— again.