David Simon is a mensch

Simon’s commencement tribute to Ashley Morris.

Friday critter blogging: best pony story ever

There’s a lot of recurring talk about ponies in parts of the blog-hood I hang out in, and in this context, ponies usually bring smiles, or at least satisfaction.

Now, via good neighbor thepolitcalcat, comes what has to be the best pony tale I’ve heard in a very long time. Yeah, I had to smile when I read it because it’s about how good calls to good, how a brave resourceful spirit called out to other brave resourceful spirits, and a cascade of right actions, of healing, followed. There’s also some bittersweetness, because this is a story that began in a nightmare of darkness and sorrow, this is another story from New Orleans, about life after Katrina.


Meet Molly. She’s a gray speckled pony who was abandoned by her owners in the wake of Katrina. She spent weeks on her own before finally being rescued and taken to a farm where abandoned animals were stockpiled. While there, she was attacked by a pit bull terrier, and almost died. Her gnawed right front leg became infected and her vet went to LSU for help. But LSU was overwhelmed, and this pony was a welfare case. You know how that goes.

But after surgeon Rustin Moore met Molly, he changed his mind. He saw how the pony was careful to lie down on different sides so she didn’t seem to get sores, and how she allowed people to handle her.. She protected her injured leg. She constantly shifted her weight, and didn’t overload her good leg. She was a smart pony with a serious survival ethic.

Moore agreed to remove her leg below the knee and a temporary artificial limb was built. Molly walked out of the clinic and her story really begins there.

read the rest

Happy birthday Scout Prime!

In the unlikely event someone asked me to describe the progressive blogosphere, I’m not sure what my complete answer would be but I know for a fact that I’d point to Scout Prime and say, “That woman? That one there? She’s a prime example of the very best of it.”

I remember hanging out at the old ScoutPrime site after Katrina. She was talking about stuff that wasn’t yet getting talked about much of anywhere else online, though soon enough it would be. Then she was researching, building bridges to the amazing NOLA blogosphere, then she went there, with not much money and a little camera. I remember watching that wobbly first video of driving through the Ninth Ward. And even though I thought I’d “gotten” what was going on there, I watched that video and saw I hadn’t. Not at all. It seemed to go on forever. And there was this part of me — despite all odds, despite the scale of it, despite the first-hand accounts even — that had still been thinking somehow we would, they would, someone would, fix all of that. Then I saw Scout’s video and knew I’d been dead wrong.

It wasn’t that Scout was doing this single-handedly, she was one of many. It wasn’t that she was smarter or doing dangerous things on a huge scale, working miracles, wielding a big ego. I think what was the most profound thing was that she was just a citizen who wasn’t going to take it anymore, that was going to do her own research, find her own news, talk to the folks there firsthand, one person who was going to stand there and witness. And not pretend she hadn’t seen what she’d seen. And not stop talking about it.

For that, and everything else (including having a lapse of judgment and being the first person to ever blogroll me), thanks, Scout. Many happy returns of the day.

Reason 83, Why we love Willie


When they write the history of country music, Willie Nelson will be a chapter and Kenny Chesney will be a sentence.

On his new Moment Of Forever album, produced by Chesney, Willie covers Randy Newman’s classic Lousiana, 1927. But Willie drops the year out of the title and changes the words up a bit:

Prezdent came down in his big airplane
With his little fat man with a note pad in his hand
Prezdent say, “Little fat man, oh, isn’t it a shame
What the river has done to this poor farmer’s land.”

Best I can tell, the rest of the album’s hit ‘n miss. Haven’t yet listened to the other track that’s garnering attention, the cover of Dylan’s You Got to Serve Somebody.

Then and Now

Today is the 37th anniversary of Hurricane Celia’s landfall on the Texas Coast. Despite its small size, Celia was the costliest hurricane in Texas history, due to intense localized wind gusts, tornado-like microbursts, within the storm system that left anything they touched literally reduced to splinters. Infrastructure, commercial structures, homes, boats and automobiles were demolished.

The wind gusts were confined to small areas “looking almost like a tiger’s claw” over the city of Corpus Christi. One man, in his description of the wind burst, stated the sound of the gust was “like a giant hammer hitting the building.”

In the two years since Katrina, I’ve blogged here and posted elsewhere about my family’s experience during Celia. Long story short, it destroyed our home and my parents’ livelihood.

Even though they lost everything they’d spent their life working for, my parents were able to get back on their feet relatively quickly, in a new house on the same spot in just under a year.

That was then.  This is now.

Image: PBS

Yesterday, the welfare of the corporate state was  again placed above the lives of thousands still scrambling to recover, two years after Katrina.:

NEW ORLEANS – Hurricane Katrina victims whose homes and businesses were destroyed when floodwaters breached levees in the 2005 storm cannot recover money from their insurance companies for the damages, a federal appeals court ruled Thursday.

The case could affect thousands of rebuilding residents and business owners in Louisiana. Robert Hartwig, chief economist at the industry-funded Insurance Information Institute in New York, said in June that a ruling against the industry could have cost insurers $1 billion.

So instead, the huge insurance companies and their parent corporations continue, intact, to prosper, while the financial burdens of recovery and rebuilding will be carried on the shoulders of individual homeowners, businesses and other entities in the hard-hit communities along the Louisiana coast and in New Orleans.

Bush admin turns down Katrina aid, then lies about it

I swear, if this administration had as much expertise in actual governing as they do in manipulating, spinning, pretending, and crafting the illusion that they are competently running the country, we might not be in the toilet they’ve created, or at least not as deep:

From the Washington Post:

As the winds and water of Hurricane Katrina were receding, presidential confidante Karen Hughes sent a cable from her State Department office to U.S. ambassadors worldwide.

Titled “Echo-Chamber Message” — a public relations term for talking points designed to be repeated again and again — the Sept. 7, 2005, directive was unmistakable: Assure the scores of countries that had pledged or donated aid at the height of the disaster that their largesse had provided Americans “practical help and moral support” and “highlight the concrete benefits hurricane victims are receiving.”

Many of the U.S. diplomats who received the message, however, were beginning to witness a more embarrassing reality. They knew the U.S. government was turning down many allies’ offers of manpower, supplies and expertise worth untold millions of dollars. Eventually the United States also would fail to collect most of the unprecedented outpouring of international cash assistance for Katrina’s victims.

Of course we have been hearing about this since Katrina but now, thanks to Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington sharing the results of their FOIA request, we know the full extent of the waste, and it is sickening. As is Condi Rice’s excusing of it on the Sunday morning bobblehead-athon. (I saw her on Stephanopoulous and Face the Nation). “It was such a new experience for the United States…” My ass, Condi. You guys have been practicing bumbling incompetence and malfeasance since you stole the first election. It’s not new, it’s business as usual.

Scout of course has more.

Getting ready to go to NOLA

I’ll be leaving for the New Orleans trip day after tomorrow. As I’ve mentioned before, I’ll be going with 14 people from the First Draft community. We’ll be volunteering for ACORN, gutting a house on Saturday. ACORN’s Home Clean Out program has cleaned and gutted more than 1,900 properties since December, helping low and moderate-income homeowners start to reclaim and rebuild their homes. By offering this service free of charge, ACORN saves these homeowners about $4000 each. Click here to see a map of homes gutted by the program. Note the volume of houses in the Lower 9th Ward area. If you’re looking for a way to help out New Orleans’ residents by volunteering or donating, ACORN’s doing some great work, and unfortunately, there is still much to be done.

While there, the First Draft Krewe will also be mixing it up with some New Orleans bloggers. Scout’s built a great New Orleans blogroll over at First Draft. These folks have been working hard since Katrina, building community and getting the word out about what’s happening on the ground in NOLA. Give ’em a visit.

Legendary New Orleans clarinetist George Lewis takes us out with Burgundy Street Blues:

Not “if,” but “when”

Scout has another great post up. It’s one of her best ever – looking at Katrina fatigue, in its various permutations, from some people who ought to know better, who don’t seem to fathom that what happened in New Orleans can happen to them. There’s more than enough reasons that Americans should be engaged with their fellow citizens left fighting for survival in Katrina’s aftermath, but this one seems like a no-brainer. Floods, hurricanes, wildfires, tornadoes – few places in America are disaster-proof.

When it happens to you, the first thing you will do is look for help.

gage gage 1

The Texas hill country where I live is full of rivers and flooding is common. Sometimes, flooding reaches disaster proportions. The floods in October of 1998 and July of 2002 each caused more than 1 billion dollars of damage. Dozens of deaths, hundreds of homes lost, tens of thousands of cattle and wild animals killed, businesses destroyed, livelihoods wiped out.

When it happens to you, the first thing you will do is look for help.

This week, heavy rains resulted in the Blanco River rising almost 25 feet overnight.


What do those numbers translate to? Here’s a video of the flooding at just one crossing on the Blanco.

Had that storm lasted longer, had the ground already been too soaked, had another storm combined with this system, we could have been looking disaster in the face. In a matter of hours. Hills, rivers, rains, floods. That’s nature in this region. It’s a fact of life, always has been. According to the logic of some of the folks in Scout’s post, not only should we not expect help, we shouldn’t live here to begin with. Yet, rapid population growth continues steadily, year after year.

Scientists predict that climate change will result in more flooding, more hurricanes, more tornadoes in the coming decade. Some believe the country is more vulnerable to an epidemic event than ever before. It is naive to think we’ll never see another terrorist attack.

When it happens to you, the first thing you will do is look for help.

People’s Rebuke for Bush’s Photo Op in NOLA today

President Bush will be in New Orleans today. A Rebuke of Bush is planned at 2pm. Via Humid City is the statement of rebuke from Katrina Survivors….


(Near Freret and Napoleon)

New Orleans Needs Federal Aid, Not Presidential Photo-Ops.
Mr. President: Katrina Survivors Do Not Welcome You, We Rebuke You!

We live in a devastated city and you are a big part of the reason why it sill sits in ruins. Your administration has abandoned our children by savaging their public schools. Your administration has tortured our working class people by refusing to reopen the city’s public housing developments. And your administration is fully complicit in placing our uninsured in harms way by ruthlessly pursuing the privatization of local public healthcare in the aftermath of Katrina. And, finally your administration is guilty of sending our sons and daughters of to war for oil and empire just when we need them most to help us rebuild our community.

Mr. President, we, Katrina Survivors all, do not welcome you to our city, we rebuke you!

Sponsored by Survivors Village, United Front For Affordable Housing.

If you have a blog please consider posting this today.

Telling it like it is

via NOLA blogger b.rox, two articles from outside the mainstream press present a reality starker than most of us can imagine. Note also that b.rox adds this:

Reading these makes me sad and angry. The mainstream media is bleak enough, but these perspectives from the radical press are beyond bleak. I wish I could say that they are exaggerating, that they go too far, that what they are saying about New Orleans is not true. But I’m afraid they’re telling it like it is.

None of this is news to those of us living here. I only pass these links along in hopes that some more people outside New Orleans will read these articles and get a picture of the enormity of our struggle.

Feeding 18,000 Families Each Month in One Neighborhood in New Orleans: The Right to Return Eighteen Months after Katrina


New Orleans since the storm, An American Travesty

From the International Socialist Review, summarizes post-hurricane rebuilding, the carpet-bagging profiteers, housing, in addition to education, health care and criminal justice. Some key points:

In the aftermath of the hurricane, more than 80 percent of New Orleans’ schools were damaged. Compared with the 117 public schools that were open before the hurricane, only 57 schools opened for the 2006–07 school year.

Fifty-three non-union charter schools have been allowed to open with both state and federal dollars. The federal government has dispersed $44 million to aid in the opening of charter schools in New Orleans while dispersing not a single penny for public school. Not one public school in New Orleans has received funding for the last year

Prior to the hurricane there were twenty-two hospitals in Orleans Parish; today there are eleven.

New Orleans lost upwards of 70–85 percent of the area’s private sector physicians, pharmacies, dental services, and behavioral health services

Even though there were more than 300,000 cases of post-traumatic stress disorder in Louisiana in the last year, there are no adult psychiatric beds serving the uninsured in Orleans Parish. This is particularly frightening considering there has been a 300 percent increase in suicides in New Orleans over the last year.

There are more than 6,000 inmates in New Orleans’ jails whose trial dates have not been set and who have never seen an attorney. Prior to the storm New Orleans had thirty-nine public defenders. Shortly after the storm, the city of New Orleans laid off thirty-one of them—leaving eight in a city with the eighth largest jail population in the country.

[Read about First Draft Krewe‘s upcoming trip to New Orleans]