Thursday, January 31, 2008

Bush's NOLA Surprise

In last year's State of the Union address (which I'd taken to calling his State of Denial address for this very reason) Bush had never said a word about New Orleans, the Gulf Coast, or Katrina--as if he'd written off an entire area of the country. So I didn't expect them to be mentioned Monday night.

You could have knocked me over with a feather when Bush first mentioned "armies of compassion" on the Gulf Coast, then announced that NOLA will be the venue of the next North American Summit with Canada and Mexico.

What is this--NOLA's "not ready" to host a fall presidential debate, per the site selection commission--yet she can, per Bush, host a summit of three world leaders in April?

Bush's announcement that New Orleans would be this summit's venue, after the debate rejection and all the other ways BushCo has given Louisiana the shaft, makes me think of an abusive husband who regularly beats his wife, disses her, and is mean-spirited towards her in other ways. Then presents her, not because it's her birthday or some other special occasion, but out of the blue, with an expensive, yet non-useful, gift. On getting a surprise like that, she'd be wise to immediately be suspicious. Because after his mistreatment of her it should be an obvious clue that her husband is up to no good. And that the worst may be yet to come.

This upcoming summit does not make me any less angry about the fact that New Orleans was screwed out of the opportunity to host any of this fall's presidential debates. Reason being, a debate held in New Orleans would be a useful gift for her--it would force the nominees of both parties to talk about how they feel about BushCo's neglect of the area and how they plan to remedy the damage it has done when they're in office. I doubt such things would be hashed out or even brought up during a North American Summit. So we still need to call for some sort of presidential debate to take place in New Orleans, at which New Orleans and Katrina-related issues are discussed.

And while the North American Summit will generate plenty of media attention, it would probably be the wrong kind of attention--namely the kind which glosses over the fact that large areas of New Orleans are still devastated and many there are still hurting physically, mentally/emotionally, and financially. Here's how BushCo and their compliant corporate-owned media will probably spin it, against a backdrop of a shiny French Quarter or maybe homes that have been rebuilt: "Look, Americans, New Orleans is just fine. She's rebuilt. She doesn't need help." (Or somehow they'll manage to cover the summit without even mentioning New Orleans or Louisiana--see how an example of this happened last night, below.) So to make a long story short, the summit won't really do anything for New Orleans and her people. She'll just provide an attractive photo-op backdrop.

And I'm worried about the prospect of violent demonstrations and protests--which per the Times-Picayune article linked above, have happened during other such summits and led to violence. While I've been calling for demonstrations and protests in support of New Orleans, to call attention to her problems, and against such things as the debate rejection, and would like to see them during the summit, they need to be attention-getting yet peaceful as were the Jena rallies. Because violence is the last thing an already-hurting Louisiana needs.

And the fact that Edwards has just bowed out of the campaign does not bode well for New Orleans and her people. I doubt that either Democratic candidate who's left will take up where Edwards left off regarding New Orleans. Hillary, for whom New Orleans has been off the radar, will just let her die--and Obama hasn't been much better.

Now for how NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams covered this. The lede was Edwards' quitting the race. But, unbelievably, neither Brian Williams nor Andrea Mitchell, both of whom are owned and operated by GE, the world's largest defense contractor, mentioned the key fact that this took place in New Orleans.

WTF? An Open Letter which I'm attempting to post on
Daily Nightly follows. If it doesn't appear there, it's been censored.

Dear Brian,

Because John Edwards ended his candidacy in the very city in which he'd kicked it off--New Orleans--I paid close attention to your coverage and Andrea Mitchell's report.

What's odd about what I heard is what I didn't hear: any mention of New Orleans by you or Andrea. And very little of Edwards' surroundings could be seen. A viewer unaware that Edwards was in New Orleans could have figured that he instead was where Andrea signed off from--Washington.

Your and Andrea's non-mention of New Orleans goes against something I seem to recall having learned in 3rd- or 4th-grade English when we were first taught how news stories were properly written: to answer the questions: "Who?," "What?," "Where?," "When," "Why?," and "How?." In last night's coverage of Edwards, there was no answer to "Where?."

Furthermore, "Nightly" also has not covered the most interesting thing Bush said in his State of the Union address: the announcement that New Orleans will be the site of the next North American Summit. It would have been far more worthwhile Tuesday night had you aired a piece on this announcement and on New Orleanians' reaction to this news, than some of the dreck you did cover such as that story on midlife crises around the world. My friend in New Orleans doesn't think this summit will be any help to New Orleans and her people.

Why has "Nightly" been for the past month or so censoring news out of New Orleans? Have your highers-up--perhaps on orders from GE, the world's largest defense contractor, demanded that you and your newspeople maintain a news blackout on New Orleans by not even mentioning her? Because they're afraid that mentioning New Orleans could remind Americans of the remaining devastation and hardships, and BushCo's neglect of that city? And that they could call for aid--which might lessen the amount of money available for defense spending, which otherwise would go into GE's bank accounts?

Since as noted, New Orleans had not been mentioned in the coverage of Edwards' bowing out, and Andrea signed off from Washington, I'm counting last night's newscast as the 24th since you aired anything out of New Orleans.

Also, I have it on good authority that NBC doesn't have the real, permanent New Orleans bureau that it should have--but a local TV station that temporarily serves as one when fly-in newspeople are in town.

"Getting to Brian

I really believe your daily questions about NOLA finally got to him. Did you see the look on his face when he said "NOLA Bureau". Very strange indeed. The fly ins camp out in the WDSU studios which I assume is their NOLA Bureau. Anyway, thanks for your persistance, it got to them. Also, heard that Pelosi and Reid have sent a strongly worded letter requesting demolition stop until the housing crisis is eased.

by chigh on Sat Dec 15, 2007 at 04:03:01 PM PST"

If NBC had a real, permanent New Orleans bureau, perhaps we would have gotten some real coverage out of New Orleans of Edwards' leaving the campaign instead of a shoddy piece obviously assembled from film clips and narrated out of Washingtonh, with no mention of New Orleans. NBC needs to re-open, permanently, or at least until New Orleans is really on the way to being rebuilt, its New Orleans bureau, now.

Louisiana 1976

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Bush: What's He Up To?

In last year's State of the Union address (which I'd taken to calling his State of Denial address for this very reason) Bush never said a word about New Orleans, the Gulf Coast, or Katrina--as if he'd written off an entire area of the country. So I didn't expect him to mention them last night.

You could have knocked me over with a feather when Bush first mentioned "armies of compassion" on the Gulf Coast, then announced that NOLA will be the venue of the next North American Summit with Canada and Mexico.

What is this--NOLA's "not ready" to host a presidential debate, per the site selection commission--yet she can host a summit of three world leaders?

Bush must be up to something---more later.

Saturday, January 26, 2008


Astrologist Susan Miller appeared on one of the morning cable news shows (no comment as to which one) and she sees Hillary winning the South Carolina primary because she's a Scorpio (and some other astrological mumbo-jumbo that went in one ear and out the other.) Interesting because Obama, per the polls, is doing so much better than Hillary. But we saw what happened in New Hampshire--so you never know.

Midwestern Mardi Gras

While the Midwest isn't known for having much to do with Mardi Gras, it can still be found in places around here. For example, some local group recently advertised a Mardi Gras festival complete with creole cuisine and New Orleans music. Pity it cost $75 a head--had it been free, I'd have been interested. Especially in the creole food!

And then there was the King Cake I was able to buy at my neighborhood Kroger's the other day. It was big--almost too unwieldy to carry home on the bus, with all the other stuff I bought, but I managed. And it'll probably last about a week--if not longer, since I'm the only one eating it. It's a beautiful cake, with the purple, green, and yellow granulated sugar on top of that melt-in-your mouth white icing. It was also decorated by Mardi Gras beads--a strand each of purple, green and gold. This was the first King Cake I'd tried--and the way it tastes reminds me of cinnamon rolls (which is good, since I love cinnamon rolls.) Yum!

The Disclaimer

At the libraries where I do my online work, once I try to get on the Internet, up pops this disclaimer:
"When you send information to the Internet, your information may be seen by others. Do you wish to continue?"
I think if my information isn't seen by others, I must be doing something wrong.

Friday, January 25, 2008

What's The Matter With The Democrats?

The worst thing about this campaign so far has been how little attention has been paid the situation in New Orleans and the rest of the Gulf Region impacted by Katrina and Rita.

This has been bi-partisan. Had it been only the Rethugs, I'd put it down to their usual let 'em eat cake attitude--like when Barbara Bush said in the Astrodome in effect that the flood evacuees were going to have a better life there then they did back home in New Orleans. And now many such evacuees are stranded in Houston, miserable because they're homesick for Louisiana but unable to return, because of the lack of affordable housing in New Orleans.

But except for John Edwards, whose efforts haven't been getting the media attention that they should, the Democrats have also been keeping their heads in the sand on this continuing issue that is still having a deleterious impact on so many.

What's the matter with the Democrats on this issue? It's got to be more than simple Katrina fatigue.

Could it be that Louisiana and Mississippi are so small in terms of population--which means too few convention delegates--and electoral votes--to fight for?

Could the Democrats have written them off as "Red" states--not only Haley Barbour's fiefdom but also Jindal's Louisiana--in spite of the fact that BushCo's ethnic cleansing and cultural genocide turned her into a "Red" state?

Could it be that they're poor states (the two poorest in the nation)--which means not much in terms of contributions to campaigns?

Could it be that Katrina and flood survivors don't have well-oiled, well-moneyed special interest groups which can speak up for them--and make enough noise to attract not only media attention (which has also been in short supply--more on this at a future time) but also attention from Democratic candidates looking for votes?

Or could it be that there's more to this inattention behind the scenes?

Now, don't get me wrong--I will vote for whoever the Democratic nominee is in November, because obviously the GOP will continue BushCo's genocide by neglect in New Orleans, and a third-party vote would be wasted.

It's time for a change on the part of the Democrats--time for them to open their eyes to New Orleans and Katrina and start focussing on this issue. They should do it yesterday.

Bring NOLA To The Debates

Times Picayune columnist Chris Rose recently has an interesting idea. He tells in this column how he attempted to book a lot of Oxford, Mississippi's 650 hotel rooms for the night of the presidential debate to be held there. And found that they'd already been booked. So here's another idea:

Since the Commission on Presidential Debates won't be bringing any of its debates to New Orleans, why can't New Orleanians and those who support New Orleans bring New Orleans to all four debates that are scheduled by this august body for this fall?
Here's how this can be done: For each day any of these debates has been scheduled, New Orleans activists should plan to flood (pun intended) the city it will be held in with busloads of demonstrators. These busloads could come not only from New Orleans but also cities with large concentrations of evacuees who've been unable to return--Houston, Atlanta, etc. People from the Mississippi Gulf Coast and elsewhere in the disaster zone, still stuck in FEMA trailers or otherwise having trouble with Katrina recovery would also be invited to participate.
These protests could start in Oxford on Sept. 26th. And they hopefully would be huge enough to tie up traffic--so massive neither the candidates and their people nor members of the media, nor any of the other debate principals including the esteemed Paul G. Kirk, Jr. and the rest of the BushCo lackeys on the commission--would find it easy to make their way to the debate venue.
And these New Orleans demonstrations should not be simple marches and rallies. That would be too mundane--not good enough for a New Orleans that wants to show Paul G. Kirk and the rest of America that she can put on a big event--and not just do so in New Orleans. The protests would need to include New Orleans musicians who'd perform jazz, the blues, zydeco, and other music for which New Orleans and Louisiana are famous. And other performers including dancers. Each protest could be like a mini-Mardi Gras. The demonstrators would also have to set up props like FEMA trailers and a homeless people's tent village--which they could call Bushvilles and Republican Row.
Last but not least, there should be trucks with cooking facilities like there are at festivals. Where po'boys, gumbo, jambalaya, and all sorts of other New Orleans treats could be sold--with proceeds going to New Orleans charities engaged in rebuilding and helping her people recover. (And in the case of Oxford and the rest of the places in which the debates are being held, that would probably be the most delicious food people there have had in years!)
Also, when the debates take place, New Orleans demonstrators would need to swarm into the venues and, during the debates, shout out questions about New Orleans and Katrina. And not shut up until their questions are answered or at least until New Orleans and Katrina are being talked about. Rude? Yes--but sometimes rudeness is necessary to get attention. And unfortunately during this campaign attention to New Orleans and her problems, which have not been treated as campaign issues, so far has been in very short supply. Being nice, quiet, and polite clearly has not worked. New Orleans has been ignored, and her people disenfranchised and treated as if they were invisible. It's time for New Orleanians to be seen and make their voices heard.
And there would be no way either the candidates or the mainstream media would be able to ignore these demonstrations and maintain their credibility. So they would hopefully attract attention to New Orleans and let the rest of America know that her people's plight continues.
These demonstrations sound like a complex plan--but based on the success of last fall's Jena rallies, they would be doable. The seeds just need to be sown in the blogosphere for an idea such as this to come to fruition. It's time to get to work on this--now.
And here's another idea to get a presidential debate for New Orleans:
Please post this following e-mail to Brian Williams on NBC Nightly News' blog,">Daily Nightly.

Dear Brian,
In spite of the historic, tragic impact of Katrina and New Orleans' flood not only on Louisiana and Mississippi but on America as a whole, and the fact that the Bush Administration has been neglecting New Orleans' recovery, this dual disaster has very rarely come up in presidential debates.
So I am calling on NBC News to sponsor a presidential debate on these topics to be held in New Orleans this fall. This seems to be the only way this disaster and the slow recovery, which are still having traumatic effects on people in Louisiana and Mississippi, will be talked about.
Remember the way Yucca Mountain, a local issue of interest only to Nevadans, was discussed in the last Las Vegas debate, which you moderated? Katrina and the flood, which unlike Yucca Mountain, have had national importance and are still affecting Americans, should be discussed at least as well as has Yucca Mountain. And a debate in New Orleans may be the only way this will happen.
And New Orleans would be the ideal venue for the presidential nominees to discuss many other domestic campaign issues because in effect New Orleans after the flood has been the "canary in the coal mine" regarding these things: the economy, health care, the environment, civil rights, poverty, education, immigration, the elderly, children, etc.
I hope you and NBC News will give this idea serious consideration. A New Orleans debate as she is recovering would be historic, and we need a debate in New Orleans.


In fact, feel free to link or crosspost this entire diary anyplace you can do so, and PASS IT ON!

About Me

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Midwest lover of New Orleans and of all things having to do with Louisiana.