Monday, November 21, 2005

An Update and Call for Help

I returned to my parents' home in Slidell, LA the weekend before Halloween, so it's been a few weeks now. Life is still turned upside down for ALL of us here in the Katrina-affected area. One entire half of this city (where I grew up and have spent the vast majority of my 25 years) is completely gone. Wiped out, no longer there. You see shells of buildings and stores that used to remain, but little else. The one half of Slidell that is still here (the northern half, where we live) used to have about 15-25,000 people total. We now have squeezed into our half almost ALL of the people from the south side of town (another 20,000+) plus many people from St. Bernard Parish (at least another 10-15,000), a neighboring parish south of here that took even more damage than we did. Please just imagine what that can do to a city when you at least triple your population in a small section of town. It is nearly impossible to drive anywhere because of traffic, places that once took 5 minutes to drive to now take 30-45 minutes, places that once took 10 minutes can now take upwards of an hour to an hour and a half. Many of our stores, restaurants and businesses are still not open; those that are open are only open about 6 hours a day. All of this is in addition to the area looking like a war zone, literally. It's unbelievable and it's horrible.

I am so disappointed with the media and the blogs for dropping the Katrina aftermath story like a hot potato. (CNN has been doing some attempts at keeping the story alive, especially on Anderson Cooper's show, but it is still far too little.) Because people haven't been hearing about us in the news all that much, they assume that everything is totally back to normal and everything is okay here.

It is NOT.

My parents came out lucky and only need a new roof after the storm, but we are still battling with the insurance company and the contractor to get it. As it stands now, we have to hold our breath any time it rains and hope that the thin garbage bags covering the big HOLE on our roof will keep water from getting in and causing more damage.

I lost my source of income when Katrina hit, yet I still have bills to pay. I am still battling with FEMA for the help that I am due (and yes, I believe I am DUE that help after what we've all been through) and trying to get through weeks of red tape just to get a little help. As far as my apartment in New Orleans, that I need starting in January because law school will resume, I could no longer afford it and have had to sublease it.

And we were lucky compared to many others. Just imagine what they're going through if my parents and I are having to deal with all this crap and we had little property damage.

This is all despicable. While the rest of the country forgets about us and politicians want to desert us and never rebuild the area, we are all trying desperately to get on with our lives and it isn't working. While the rest of the country seems concerned about the holidays coming up, most of us here can't even stomach the idea of celebrating any kind of holiday because of what we've been through and what we STILL go through-- not to mention whether any of us will have any money whatsoever left to spend on any holidays.

Liberal politicians have forgotten about us, conservative politicians never gave a damn about us in the first place, and religious-right leaders are spreading the word that we got what we deserved for being sinners. Now we also have "scientists" (who seem to work with or for the conservative politicians) saying that we should not rebuild at all, that we should just pick up and move and leave our lives behind, that one of the nation's greatest cities should be abandoned and never rebuilt, because, "hey, you might get another hurricane and you're below sea level-- how horrible!!!". It's horrible and immoral to suggest something like that and to put us through that after what we've been through. And no one is suggesting that people move out of California (earthquakes), Florida (many, many more hurricanes than us), the Midwest (tornadoes), or the northeast (blizzards). Why are we being singled out and totally and completely abandoned?

Yesterday our local newspaper had an amazing editorial that sums up much of our feelings, and I will post much of it here:

The federal government wrapped levees around greater New Orleans so that the rest of the country could share in our bounty.

Americans wanted the oil and gas that flow freely off our shores. They longed for the oysters and shrimp and flaky Gulf fish that live in abundance in our waters. They wanted to ship corn and soybeans and beets down the Mississippi and through our ports. They wanted coffee and steel to flow north through the mouth of the river and into the heartland.

[snip]

So the federal government built levees and convinced us that we were safe.

We weren't.

The levees, we were told, could stand up to a Category 3 hurricane.

They couldn't.

By the time Katrina surged into New Orleans, it had weakened to Category 3. Yet our levee system wasn't as strong as the Army Corps of Engineers said it was. Barely anchored in mushy soil, the floodwalls gave way.

Our homes and businesses were swamped. Hundreds of our neighbors died.

Now, this metro area is drying off and digging out. Life is going forward. Our heart is beating.

But we need the federal government -- we need our Congress -- to fulfill the promises made to us in the past. We need to be safe. We need to be able to go about our business feeding and fueling the rest of the nation. We need better protection next hurricane season than we had this year. Going forward, we need protection from the fiercest storms, the Category 5 storms that are out there waiting to strike.

Some voices in Washington are arguing against us. We were foolish, they say. We settled in a place that is lower than the sea. We should have expected to drown.

As if choosing to live in one of the nation's great cities amounted to a death wish. As if living in San Francisco or Miami or Boston is any more logical.


[snip]

The federal government decided long ago to try to tame the river and the swampy land spreading out from it. The country needed this waterlogged land of ours to prosper, so that the nation could prosper even more.

Some people in Washington don't seem to remember that. They act as if we are a burden. They act as if we wore our skirts too short and invited trouble.

We can't put up with that. We have to stand up for ourselves. Whether you are back at home or still in exile waiting to return, let Congress know that this metro area must be made safe from future storms. Call and write the leaders who are deciding our fate. Get your family and friends in other states to do the same. Start with members of the Environment and Public Works and Appropriations committees in the Senate, and Transportation and Appropriations in the House. Flood them with mail the way we were flooded by Katrina.

Remind them that this is a singular American city and that this nation still needs what we can give it.


One thing I disagree with is its emphasis solely on New Orleans; while I desperately want help for New Orleans, there are so many other places that also need it (like my home town). The storm did not only hit New Orleans; it left a path of destruction stretching from Hammond, LA (45 minutes west of here) all the way to the Mississippi/ Alabama state line.

But if you are reading this blog and have some compassion left for those of us left behind in Katrina's wake, I beg of you to write your politicians and demand that they give us answers and help (the local paper has a list of important people to write to here). Many of us here are writing or will write to politicians, but I don't believe our voices matter to them anymore; we are subhumans and we don't count to the people in Washington, D.C. any longer.

Perhaps those of you in the rest of the country would be listened to more. Please help if you can-- we're not asking for money or even much of your time, but instead I hope that people outside the Katrina-affected area will do something that we have a duty and responsibility to do as Americans anyway: write your politicians and tell them how you feel.

Remember, politicians work for us, WE are paying their salary, and ultimately they have to answer to us. It's probably the case that precious few politicians care about us down here because at the moment we're all too damn poor to pay much of their salaries, but the rest of the country can pay them and they'd listen to all of you more.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Added Inconvenience to Comments

To all my legitimate readers, I've had a huge influx of spam posts to my comments sections throughout the blog (particularly to a post I made over a year ago-- I don't know how the hell they're finding that one). Anyway, rather than restricting the comments section so much that only "members" can post (since most of my real-life friends are not members), I'm hoping that I can get by with making y'all type out a code before you post. You know how when you sign up for a free email account or whatever and you have to type in what those big bubble letters and numbers say? They do that because humans can read it but computers doing the spamming cannot.

Anyway, I know it's an added inconvenience, but I hope that those of you making genuine comments will still continue to do so, because I always enjoy them.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

New Look, Same Great Taste

As you can see, I've got a new template. I don't know about y'all, but looking at white words on a black backdrop was making my headaches worse, so it had to go. This new template looks light and airy and fluffy and happy, totally unlike any of my posts. So I chose it. ;)

Anyway, in the process I lost all my wonderful links that I worked so hard for on the sidebar. Eh. Eventually I'll work hard again to put them back up, I'm sure. It's extremely high on the list, behind get new roof, try and get to New Orleans apartment for first time after Katrina hit to assess any damages, deal with higher incidences of migraines, etc. Yep, way way up there.

Asshole of the Day Award- Oct. 13

I thought long and hard when I was planning my "Asshole" award. Should I make it on a day-by-day scale, a week-by-week one, or even a month-by-month one for the most serious cases? I finally realized that this Katrina aftermath has brought so many assholes and fuckwads out of the woodwork (where at least they'd been hiding somewhat) that even doing an "Asshole of the Week" award wouldn't give me a chance to cover all of them. Hell, even though I finally settled on the day-by-day "Asshole of the Day" Award, there's still probably enough to make a damn hourly award.

Today's not so bright, kind, generous, and loving winner of the "Asshole of the Day" Award is none other than New Orleans Attorney Frank DeSalvo, who, as noted in the previous post, is defending the brutal beating of 64-YEAR-OLD ROBERT DAVIS by N.O. cops as "reasonable" and "following proper procedure" and other such bullshit. He says all we have to do is watch the video slowly and we'll see the truth. Huh. I did that, and the truth is that a 64-YEAR-OLD MAN was brutally beaten in a dangerous spot (the back of the head and behind the ear) and his face continuously bounced off the brick wall. There were also many more sucker-punches than is required for fucking "standard procedure" or "reasonable force".

In this slo-mo tape that I have also watched, DeSalvo claims, "I see an incident of a man trying to be brought under control who doesn't want to be brought under control."

I wish DeSalvo would hook me up with his crack dealer, because it must be nice to be that high and out of it all the time. What I see is a 64-YEAR OLD MAN being beaten senseless by the cops AND federal agents (still waiting for those charges) who is trying to protect his face and head by putting his arms up around his face. You know, those things called "self-defense" and "self-preservation" and "Please God don't kill me I don't know what the hell is going on, I just don't want to die." That kind of stuff.

So anyway, congratulations to Frank DeSalvo. For giving lawyers, New Orleans police, and the City of New Orleans a bad name; for making a bad situation even tragically and dangerously worse; for being flippant about abuse and blaming the victim; and for being a general jackass-- You win today's "Asshole of the Day" Award. With the possible exception of the previous award winner, I cannot think of anyone MORE deserving of that title.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

A Big Problem in New Orleans Right Now

At the moment there is a HUGE problem brewing in New Orleans: the people trying to justify the horrible beating this past weekend of 64-YEAR OLD Robert Davis.

At first we had the "President of the Police Association" dude (don't know his name, don't care to look it up) telling the world on CNN Monday and early Tuesday morning that "the officers don't see where they did anything wrong" and he made it clear that neither did he. Great. Funny thing was, by Tuesday afternoon he had changed his tune quite a bit. Now he was telling the world on CNN something along the lines of, "Yeah, the tape is very gruesome, but these officers DO deserve a fair trial." Fair enough, everyone does, including Robert Davis.

By the way, no, I don't have links to these things because I watched them with my own two eyes on CNN and I'm not going to go to all the trouble to get transcripts. Don't believe me? Tough. Get off my blog. (Phew, this hurricane aftermath has made me MEAN. I never was before...)

Anyway, at least the Prez of the Police Association (I think that's their union, but could be wrong) has backed down a little, even if it's only in public. Who knows. But the lawyer for the officers charged goes a little too far with his excuses and blame-the-victim routine.

The lawyer for three police officers arrested and suspended from the force after a taped incident on Bourbon Street says the men have been ‘tried and convicted’ by the media and that the facts will show that ‘reasonable’ force was used. He said ‘politics’ was the reason that Mayor Nagin and other city officials had quickly condemned the actions.


Umm, whatever. Any reasonable person can tell you that that was beyond excessive force used, and that it was unneccessary and criminal. One, and at most two, punches would have rendered a 64-YEAR-OLD MAN totally passive, but there were waaaaaay more than two hard sucker punches thrown (and remember, each time Davis' head was bouncing against a BRICK WALL.) THAT's most likely why the American population is disgusted and that city officials acted so quicky, not because we're all so fickle and ignorant like he's making us out to be.

Attorney Frank DeSalvo said the bloody mess that was on the ground and the blood streaming from Davis’ face came as a result of his face hitting the ground as a federal agent wrestled him to the floor.


Okay, that's just bullshit. Get a doctor to testify, and let's bring it on. You'll lose this battle, DeSalvo.

He said that one of Davis’ hands were cuffed but that the attempt to cuff the other necessitated the blows seen on the video.


No, it didn't, and you're a sick fuck for suggesting that anything warranted a beating THAT brutal against a 64-YEAR OLD MAN.

He contends that none of the blows struck Mr. Davis in the head.


Oh, that makes it okay? Remember the Hockey Dad case and trial? That victim was sucker-punched once, JUST ONCE, behind the ear at the back of his head (where it is obvious that 64-YEAR OLD ROBERT DAVIS was hit), and was killed because guess what? We have lots of really big, life-sustaining arteries back there. It's one of the most dangerous places to punch anyone, and police and health experts from across the country are saying that's against policy and seriously dangerous to hit anyone there. If you're right in that this is common police procedure in New Orleans, that still doesn't make it right-- it just means the police department itself will be facing a huge civil trial too.

Now look, from Day 1 of this beating tragedy, I have been saying that stress played a huge part in this. Most of NOLA cops have lost everything, their families are scattered to the four corners of the earth, and due to employee shortages because of the rat bastard cops who bailed on the force after the hurricane, they're having to work 12 hour days, five days a week. Nagin wants to hire more police, but FEMA still hasn't brought in enough temp housing for them to do so, and there's so little available housing in the city that they can't hire anyone until FEMA coughs up some temp housing. (Thanks FEMA, you've been doing a swell job fucking things up left and right. Make sure you keep doing that.)

So while that in no way whatsoever excuses what those policemen did, I think it helps explain some of it, and if the defense attorney wanted to take that road, I wouldn't be so pissed. But New Orleans has already been getting so much bad press lately-- the beating alone was another nail in the coffin for New Orleans, but we sure as HELL don't need people getting on national TV excusing it and blaming the victim. That won't do our city one bit of good.

Edited to add: DAMN, that fucking attorney is still at it even today! Jesus H. Christ, what an asshole he is. To people across the country, this jackass attorney and what these cops did in no way whatsoever represents what New Orleans is about or what most of the people here feel. We are just as disgusted as y'all, and this guy making excuses and outright lying just makes me sick.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Asshole of Day Award

That special title goes to Kim Compton of Boston, Massachussetts. She/He/It wrote a letter to People Magazine regarding the Katrina victims. It was printed in the October 3, 2005 edition and says the following (quoted in full):

So some people who refused to evacuate because they had no way to get out of town are now complaining about what they went through? Spare me! They're used to having the government provide their every need. I hope they've learned their lesson that Uncle Sam can't always get there instantly to bail you out.


Wow. If anyone is in Boston and knows this person, I wouldn't blame you for having an overwhelming need to throw eggs at her/his/it's home and car. It's a natural reaction, especially since the U.S. is the richest country in the world and had more than enough resources to "instantly bail these people out", even though they didn't. And we all know who "these people" are. And because it's nice to punish the poorest people in our country from one of the poorest cities in the country. And yeah, the government's been helping "these people" live the high life to the max-- ever been to the Ninth Ward in New Orleans? Maybe Kim Compton was wearing special goggles that converted the pictures to a land of riches, but the area more closely resembled shanty towns from South Africa. Wow, how generous those government handouts are. (Go ahead, Kim Compton, you can insert your own [they're using all the money for booze and drugs] comment here. The cat's out of the bag-- we now know what a racist, hateful, sick, despicable fuck you are. So do go on and say it; you know you're dying to do it.)

So far today, I can't think of a better or more deserving person to win the "Asshole of the Day" Award. Congratulations, Kim Compton of Boston. This is truly an honor.

Of course, Bush is still roaming around the area for photo ops, he may be getting tomorrow's "Asshole of the Day" award if recent history proves anything...

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Smearing my HOME

We’re starting to see a really sad phenomenon across the country. People, some of whom were so supportive right after Katrina hit, are now saying New Orleans and its surrounding communities should be abandoned and not be rebuilt. Some claim this is because NOLA is below sea level and at risk for future hurricanes, and other sick fucktards claim it is because we all deserved what we got because NOLA is a “haven for sinners” and other such bullshit.

I’m just physically, mentally and spiritually drained by all of this. This is my HOME we’re talking about, the place where I grew up and lived my life; it’s where my family and friends are, and it has my history, my past, my future, my dreams, my loves, my hates all intertwined into one geographic landscape. Why should all of that be abandoned because the location has some risk involved?

And why are we all of the sudden so skiddish about risky locations? California is prone to earthquakes and wildfires, the Midwest is prone to tornadoes, Hawaii is prone to volcanoes, the northern states are prone to dangerous blizzards, and more—yet there is no chorus saying that these places should be abandoned and that the people who live there should lose everything they’ve ever known and their whole past and history. Hell, there generally aren’t even credible people saying Florida should be abandoned. In fact, last year, after Hurricane Frances pounded Florida like a baseball bat, FEMA actually gave the area several billion dollars MORE than they needed (*cough, cough* election year *cough, cough*) and we didn’t hear anyone complaining.

I know it’s going to cost a lot of money, and I’m sorry for that. I can promise you that Louisiana begged Congress for help paying for stronger levees for years, but we were met with a deaf ear because it would have cost between $10-20 billion. That deaf ear is now costing the country at least $200 billion.

But this is America, and we are American citizens. If most of the country was willing to go on a “nation-building exercise” in Iraq that has cost us $200 billion to date, and will cost us at least another $50-100 billion in the future, then surely your fellow Americans are worth it too. We did nothing to deserve any of this, despite what some “religious” leaders are saying, and we don’t deserve to lose everything we’ve ever known because of this natural disaster.

Along that last note, the people who believe we got what we deserved because of our “sins” are some of the most despicable, vile, and unChristian people on the planet, and I won’t address them on my blog. I’m positive that there’s a nice, boiling hot place in hell for all of those sick bastards, and I don’t need to waste my energy on them.

For everyone willing to give up on New Orleans and its surrounding communities, please put yourselves in our shoes. We need our homes and our lives back, but perhaps even more importantly, we need to have the hope of getting back everything we lost. And no, I’m not delusional when I say “everything we lost”; I know everything will never be exactly the same. But it isn’t even just the tangible buildings, streets and stores that we need back the most—-we lost our communities, our sense of togetherness, our hopes and dreams, and we need to have the hope of getting all that back.

Without that hope, we Katrina victims have even less than nothing, and now there are fellow American citizens who would take that hope away. Please, don’t victimize us twice. We went through enough with the hurricane and its own immediate aftermath; don’t take any more away from us. Please.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Response to comment

Wow, I've been absolutely astounded by the amount of comments I've gotten on my itty-bitty blog! There's now like SEVEN total comments on the whole site! ;) I'm so humbled.

Of course you know I've made it in the blogging world when I start getting spam comments-- I appreciate that very much, to those offenders. Like enough shit isn't going on in my life for me to drudge through spam comments, but anyway, to my lovely readers (the three or four of you out there), please don't think those idiots posting spam stuff reflects on me.

Anyway, I did want to respond to one comment that I got on my "Analysis of Human Waste..." post. I'm not sure if this post is from my absolutely wonderful friend Judi from Australia, who's one of the coolest people on the planet, but even if it's not, it does bring up a good point that probably should be addressed after the rant that I made in that post. Anyway, here's the anonymous comment:

Now being a citizen of the lucky country (Australia that is, - lucky we don't get hurricanes at least)I am not going to profess that I know anything at all about American politics. God knows, it is hard enough for me to come to grips with our brown nosing prime minister who continually has his head up the amazing Mr Bushs' bum!! But even without reading the devastating description that you have posted, I have to wonder - who would actively choose to stay in a place where their lives are in grave danger?!? Do your politicians really think that the people who stayed did so out of choice?!? Very enlightening - thanks


First off, yes, Australia is a lucky country-- absolutely beautiful and some of the nicest people on the planet. (Edited to add: I mean this is the country that brought us the exquisite movie, Priscilla, Queen of the Desert! How can anyone not think this is one of the greatest countries on the planet???) But you didn't think that's what I would address, did you? ;)

What's more important is the question about whether or not people would stay in the direct path of a hurricane and put their lives in danger. It's hard for people not in hurricane zones to understand, but yes, there are always people who deliberately stay behind despite having the means and ability to evacuate. (Katrina, however, had fewer people doing this than your average hurricane-- it wasn't hard to see how catastrophic it could be compared with the past hurricane threats we had dealt with.)

In my opinion, after having lived almost a quarter of a century in a hurricane zone, the people who stay behind usually fall into two camps. The first are the die-hard, good ol' American "I have to protect my property against this menace!" type of people. For Hurricane Ivan last year, my father fell into this camp, mostly because one of his best friends is ALWAYS in this camp. Property and the protection of it are so ingrained into the American psyche as one of the most important values out there, and a lot of Americans, not the least of which those in the hurricane zones, feel a need to protect their property at all costs. So some will stay behind during a hurricane to be on hand if any desperate need to save the house or land arises, or in the worst case scenario (though they won't admit it), to die for the noble cause of "saving" their property.

Even though I've always known people who do this, it doesn't 100% make sense. You can protect your property from a burglar-- lock your doors and windows, get a burglar alarm, call 911 for police, and if necessary, shoot the burglar to protect your family and your property. That's a scenario where you can usually take some action from beginning to end to do your part in "saving your property." But a hurricane? The most you can do for those is board up your windows and set up sandbags at the doors and spots most vulnerable for flooding. After that, the hurricane kind of has the upper hand and there really isn't much else you can do.

But maybe you could try arguing that with one of these people and get it to work, but so far few have. They're usually the ones who are "set in their ways".

Anyway, in the second camp are the people who feel, "Well, I lived through Hurricane X and Hurricane Y and survived that, so I can definitely make it through this storm." Or something along the lines of, "I've been evacuating from all these hurricanes time after time and nothing's ever happend-- I'm sick of it, and I won't do it anymore."

I must confess that I have said the second sentence whilst deciding whether or not to evacuate, but in the end I'm always a wimp and I evacuate, no matter how sick I am of it. But if you've lived here a while, being on the run is exhausting and often fruitless; you spend all that time evacuating, and 9 times out of 10, the bloody hurricane will make a last minute shift and not even head towards you. And you think, "Damn, what a waste. I wish I had stayed home."

So those are the two general mindsets that keep some people here in the path of a hurricane. But again, before any lawmakers or idiots like Bill O'Reilly take me out of context (because I'm so important like that), Katrina was a different story altogether. Most people who could leave, did, even if they wanted to protect their property or if they were sick of evacuating. When you live here long enough, you develop enough of a sixth-sense about these storms, and we all knew this storm was different than most of the ones in the past.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Evacuate Again, My Friend

I just got into Houston, TX this past weekend after leaving my Slidell, LA home. The Slidell area was so encased with debris and other such stuff that my allergies and my migraines were off the radar. So I left last Saturday to stay with my dad in Houston.

When-- voila!-- Little Miss Rita comes hammering along. So tomorrow morning, my father and I, evacuees from Slidell and New Orleans respectively, will have to evacuate Houston and head back east to Slidell. What fun.

I must add this: some despicable people have used the Katrina disaster to impose their unChristian beliefs by saying things like, "New Orleans deserved to be destroyed, the communities were sinful and therefore deserved God's Wrath in the form of Katrina, etc." I know, I'm nauseous too.

But a new one has come out today that says, "Rita is God's wrath and retribution for the way His people were treated by the government (all of them) during the Katrina disaster."

Nothing else needs to be said. :-)

Thursday, September 15, 2005

An Analysis of Human Waste

Well, hopefully this will be my first political post regarding the Katrina disaster, but it's 5 a.m. so I promise nothing. I'm actually not dedicating my first political post to the slow federal response or to the race/ poverty issue (though it shall be discussed, in due time). Instead, I'd like to analyze the human waste and excrement that has come in the wake of the hurricane, specifically in the form of Rick Santorum and Dennis Hastert. No, my friends, these are not human beings-- these two "men" are actually piles of human waste and excrement, and a pitiful waste of it at that.

We'll start with everyone's favorite, Santorum. (How the flying FUCK does this guy keep getting elected? Who are his fucking Pennsylvania constituents, anyway??) There's a lovely list at RADAR Online of the worst and even worse than that quotes from the hurricane coverage, and it's from there that I get my Santorum quote.

“I mean, you have people who don’t heed those warnings and then put people at risk as a result of not heeding those warnings. There may be a need to look at tougher penalties on those who decide to ride it out.”—Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA)


Now, we all saw the footage of the people-- U.S. citizens-- starving to death, wading through disease-riden water, with no shelter, no medical attention, no safety net for up to 5 days. But sometimes it's hard for a pile of human excrement like Rick Santorum to actually digest that stuff.

Let me give you my background of how I, a middle-class, priviledged white female law student, was able to evacuate New Orleans on the Saturday before the storm hit on Monday.

In April of 2000 my parents bought a nearly brand-new Toyota Corolla for my dad to drive. At the time, I was driving my dad's "old" car, a 1992 Toyota Camry. Then one day within the next year, the Camry broke down on me and my dad was afraid to have his only child, his precious girl, drive this scary, unreliable "piece of shit". So even though I was a college student and had never worked out of necessity (my jobs were always to earn extra "spending money") I inherited a 2000 Toyota Corolla.

So we can now fast-forward to the Saturday morning before the hurricane hit. I was all cozy in my New Orleans apartment, and I got a call from my parents with the obligatory, "Oh my god, this is the Big One, we have to evacuate or we'll all die" statement, and guess what I did? I got in my Corolla and drove to my parents' house, from where we then evacuated to Jackson on Sunday.

Now let's analyze what that Saturday and Sunday were like for the upwards of 200,000 low-income residents of New Orleans. It's never been a secret that almost none of the impoverished people in N.O. have cars, despite the fact that our public transportation is abysmal. The local, state, and FEDERAL governments knew this. Their main modes of transportation included buses and more infrequently, trains. But what happend on Saturday afternoon after Mayor Nagin declared a mandatory evacuation? Greyhound buses and Amtrak trains cancelled all their impending services out of town. Huh. That's not even taking into account the fact that most of the people wouldn't have had the money to pay for the fare in the first place. Now, Mr. Santorum, I know you can drop $100 on a glass of wine (it costs a lot to inebriate a pile of human excrement like yourself), but for many of these families, $100 is all they might have per month or even every other month to feed their whole families. And I doubt that many of these victims of Hurricane Katrina had started a savings fund for this particular rainy day, given that the Census Bureau shows that one of the hardest hit areas of New Orleans had an average yearly household income of $7500.

It would have been possible for you to blame the local, state AND federal governments (in the form of FEMA), but since you're a Republican and every single Republican voted against having an independent investigation into what went wrong, then you have no fucking right to complain or place the blame, at least on anyone but your incompetent dumbass self.

So WHO exactly, Mr. Santorum, are you wanting to arrest for staying behind and not evacuating? The single mom with five kids making $7500 a year? The elderly couple living solely of their Social Security checks? The people dying on makeshift ventilators at Charity Hospital when the power went out? Oh, those wretched people, they should certainly be in prison, while I, who was lucky enough to be born to the right people with the right amount of money, should not be in prison because I had a car.

For God's sake, you sick bastard, do us all a favor and take the next space shuttle mission on a one-way trip off this planet and stay gone forever. There's enough piles of shit on this planet already, we don't need your sorry ass taking up any more of our precious space.

I'll talk about Dennis Hastert another time. This post alone has me sick.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Back Home from the Brink of Katrina

I'm from the suburbs of New Orleans, and was living right smack dab in the middle of New Orleans a little over two weeks ago. I'm finally back from my evacuation. I'm here in Slidell, Louisiana, one of the hardest-hit towns of the hurricane zone (yes, Katrina did hit places other than New Orleans and Biloxi-Gulfport, though they get scarce mention in the news). This town looks like a war zone-- there are trees and powerlines down everywhere, military and national guard figures roaming the streets, big military humvees and supply trucks driving through town, and far too few disaster relief centers scattered here and there. I've never seen anything like it, and I've lived in this hurricane-prone area all my life (25 years).

I haven't heard anything about my apartment in New Orleans, if it's still there, or if it's in decent condition. You have to drive through various checkpoints to get there, and if you aren't an "official person" or whatever, you're turned back. That's probably for the best, though. The 'not knowing' part is just hard...

You want to know what this hurricane has done to my family and me, a typical, white middle class family from the suburbs? Let me first give you our background: I had just started my first year at Tulane Law School, my father is (well, was) a naval architect in Jefferson Parish, my mother is a middle school teacher here in Slidell.

For me, now, law school has been "postponed" for another year, as Tulane simply had to cancel school. Some of my classmates, from other parts of the country, were able to get into the few schools that were accepting 1Ls. But for me, that would have meant moving to a brand new city with about $100 to my name, all with just what I brought to evacuate (2 shirts, 2 pairs of shorts, and 1 pair of flip-flops, and my medicine) and all with the notion that everything I had from my home, both my parents' home where I had spent 25 years off-and-on and my new apartment in New Orleans, could be destroyed. It just wasn't feasible. So my life-long dream of becoming a lawyer will be another year in the waiting. It'll happen, though, I'm feeling positive about it. In the meantime, I have no job now, since I was planning on being in school the next three years, and no way to pay the rent on my New Orleans apartment. But I'll survive. I can't complain.

My father is unable to even get to his office in Jefferson Parish, nor are his 30-40 coworkers. Luckily his company has their headquarters in Houston, but fairly unluckily, he and all his coworkers are having to move there for at least the next 4 months. The rumors are flying that once they get there, the company will make them stay and will not rebuild the New Orleans office, but we are hoping (and praying) that that's not true. For now, we only have to suffer through the separation, but my family is very close and strong. We'll survive that.

The school where my mother teaches at is still standing, but that is all that can be said really, after they got 9+ feet of water and muck in the buildings. It's a Catholic school, and the local archdiocese has been very unChristian in their behavior towards the victims of this hurricane. (Before the hurricane, the N.O. archbishop holed himself up in a fancy home in Baton Rouge and refused to talk to anybody, to help anybody, to give money or time for relief efforts, etc. He's lived in the gracious lap of luxury while others have starved to death and lost all their worldly possessions. I feel no shame in saying he's a thoroughly despicable man, though some of the priests have been very generous with their time and efforts.) Anyway, the archdiocese originally had no interest in fixing up the school, and was going to offer only one-months pay to my mom and everyone else, which is despicable. My mom has worked there since 1983, and she could be discarded like a rotting field mouse and the archbishop and local Catholic hierarchy couldn't give a rat's ass. The local parishioners, however, are trying desperately to come up with a solution to keep the school open (at another location) that the archdiocese will approve. Everything is now up in the air.

It is amazing how 2 weeks and one day ago I was a law school student, my dad was a naval architect in Harahan (in Jefferson Parish, for the non-locals), and my mom was a middle school teacher. In less than a few hours, all that has changed, and at least for my mom and me, our futures are uncertain.

Let me stress, however, that we are very, VERY fortunate. We are all alive, our house in Slidell came out fairly unscathed, we had somewhere to evacuate to and stay for two weeks while the city was closed, we now have at least one paycheck coming in, and we never had to miss any meals. Please don't feel sorry for me, and please don't feel I am fishing for sympathy. There are thousands, maybe even millions of people, who were hit so much worse by this storm than my family and I were, and my heart aches for them. I hope that everyone in this country who can give or do something to help them, has.

I will write later about politics (oh trust me, this has me riled up!) and other effects of the storm, but tonight is my first night with the internet, so I simply wanted to post an update. If you are reading this, please, please keep all the Katrina victims in your thoughts and your heart-- everyone here has been affected, from the absolutely minute to the absolutely devastating. None of us was spared anything in this storm, but again, I cannot complain in any way whatsoever (well, except about the federal response to this tragedy, but that'll be later). I am so fortunate-- I only wish everyone had come out as fortunate as me and my family.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

The most brilliant thing...

I just heard THE most brilliant anti-contraception argument whilst flipping around the TV and landing on EWTN. According to the women on whatever show it was, in third-world countries the infant mortality rate is higher, so if we gave them contraception, we'd be keeping them down and holding the people back!

I kid you not, they actually said it. I don't know what else they said, because I yelled out some curse words and changed the channel.

Why don't we spend some time asking ourselves why the fucking infant mortality rate is so high in those countries in the first place? Oooh, oooh, I know one reason! **waves hand enthusiastically in the air** It's because women are having TOO MANY BABIES. The health of the woman and her babies declines with each pregnancy, so the 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, and so forth pregnancy is gradually deteriorating. Yes, this is but one of MANY reasons for the high infant mortality rate, but it's one that contraception would help, and it would help women have options other than staying pregnant from literally the age of 14 to 45 with at least a dozen living or dead babies in between those years.

But what am I saying? Children are a blessing from God, and God will provide, right? Just like he's providing an overabundance of food for the millions of Africans who are starving to death today because of drought and warfare? We needn't worry our little heads about that stuff because God will provide, we just need to keep popping out as many babies as possible for God to provide for and make sure that we enforce our religious views on other countries so that they have as many babies as possible for God to provide for.

La la la la, **skipping through the fairy dust** Isn't life magical?

Monday, May 30, 2005

Let's all get offended now

From CNN:

Vice President Dick Cheney said Monday he was offended by Amnesty International's condemnation of the United States for what it called "serious human rights violations" at Guantanamo Bay.

"For Amnesty International to suggest that somehow the United States is a violator of human rights, I frankly just don't take them seriously," he said in an interview that was to air Monday night on CNN's "Larry King Live."


You know what, Dickie? I'm fucking BEYOND offended that you're offended at this, since the fact that there is torture going on is pretty irrefutable. So fuck you for being offended and fuck you for being a part of this problem in the first place.

The rest of the world, especially the Middle East, isn't going to start welcoming us with open arms like you want them to as long as we're beating detainees senseless and flushing sacred religious texts down the toilets and having 100 detainees in Afghanistan and Iraq die under our care in questionable circumstances.

So while you're all uppity and offended at Amnesty calling you out, which they did rightfully so, the rest of the world is just hating us more and more because of the very shit that Amnesty says you're doing (and that there's plenty of PROOF that you're doing).

So take your offensiveness elsewhere (I can suggest a few places to put it) and start actually treating Iraqis and Afghanis like human beings. Then maybe our soldiers wouldn't get shot at so much, then maybe the Iraqi people wouldn't hate the American forces so much, then maybe people around the world would respect us rather than seeing us as backstabbers and liars and heathens.

I believe you're one of those Christians who likes to run political campaigns on "Christian Family Values" (whatever the fuck that means), but here's a big Christian tradition that's held pretty dear: treat others the way you want to be treated. It's that "Golden Rule" thing. I don't know about you, Dick, but I don't want to be sodomized, beaten, electrocuted, humiliated, photographed, etc. etc. etc. Those are just the things we actually have pictures of, and you really think that's an isolated incident? Give me a fucking break, and get your head out of that hole it's been in if you think that or if you really want us to believe that.

Amnesty International is not your enemy. Tortured Iraqis and Afghanis (many of whom are innocent of any crime, they were just picked up in the paranoia) are not your enemy. YOU and your government's policy and your government's treatment of detainees are the enemy. Until you have an attitude change and a revelation about reality, you will continue to be your own enemy, and you will continue to do damage to America's reputation abroad, and you will continue to be responsible for the brutal torture and mistreatment and even murder of detainees.

Get a fucking clue already.

By the way, isn't it convenient that your administration was all lovey-dovey with Amnesty International when it needed an excuse to go to war, and when you needed to drum up support for said war? Back then, AI could do no wrong, but hey, once they do their jobs and start calling out torturers where torturers lie, regardless of whether it's in the Middle East or here in the good ol' U.S. of A., then suddenly, they're not a credible organization. Boo fucking hoo.

Said by the administration that's been caught in lie after lie after lie after lie after lie. And unlike Clinton's lies, these lies have caused massive death and destruction and the loss of soldiers' lives.

So yeah, Cheney, you're a REALLY credible source. I'm going to put all my eggs in your torturous, lying, manipulative, deceitful, assinine basket now...

Edited to add: If you're as offended and pissed off as I am at Dick Cheney and the Bush Administration as a whole, then drum up some support for Amnesty International and sign their petition. God knows they're taking a beating from the So-Called-Liberal-Media, so donate some cash while you're at it, if you can.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Priorities in Good Order

Well, it appears that Gwinnett County has their priorities all in order now that they've indicted Jennifer Wilbanks. Every minute and dollar spent investigating and prosecuting this case is another minute and dollar taken away from investigating and prosecuting crimes like rape, murder, robbery, etc. But we have to make sure she's punished! Incidentally, she faces up to 6 years in jail, and many people convicted of manslaughter have not served or will not serve that much time. Sounds about right to me. (My eyes hurt from rolling them so much right about now...)

Nearly every night I watch crime documentaries on A&E or CourtTV, because I'm a nerd like that (and I freely admit it). On one of last night's shows on CourtTV, they made the statement, "Most adult men who are missing go missing on purpose and of their own accord." As in, they WANT to leave their lives and go missing.

So I said to my mother, "Gee, how many of these thousands of men who go missing on purpose each year have felony charges brought against them? How many of them have much of the country demanding their heads on a stake and retribution?"

Thank god I'm not holding my breath waiting for the answer to that question.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Hypocrites 'R' Us

There are few things in this world that I hate more than hypocrisy. If you're going to be a politically-minded jackass, fine. I can accept that. But at least be consistent.

The latest bout of hypocrisy in the world of right wingnuttery is the case of Luis Posada Carriles, the man responsible for blowing up a plane full of 73 innocent Cuban civilians (and suspected of plenty of other things as well). First of all, I'm very happy that the U.S. government got off their asses and brought the guy in. They've known for years now where he was and what he was up to. Hell, you could probably look Posada's name, address and schedule up in the Miami yellow pages under "Gifts from God" because he's a local hero in the exile community and he made little effort himself to hide. Even Posada himself admitted casually of the FBI, "They know where I am and how to reach me" (Cuba Confidential by Ann Louise Bardach, pg. 207-- highly recommended book, by the way).

That right there is the first bit of hypocrisy. No Florida or U.S. presidential candidates wanted to risk losing the Cuban exile vote, so the government has done little to find, capture or prosecute any Cuban exile terrorists, of which there are many (in the late 1980's, Miami was nicknamed the "Capital of U.S. Terrorism" because of all the bombings and murders related to Cuban exile politics).

So how can we honestly tell other countries, "You better listen to us and fight this 'War on Terror'!" and shake our fingers in their faces when we won't even do that in our own country unless the perpetrators are Muslim or eco-terrorists? What right do we have to even fight a fucking "War on Terror" (if that is what it's about, which I highly doubt) when we let terrorists openly lounge about in front of our very eyes and don't do a damn thing about it?

But now they've taken Posada in, and hopefully they'll do the right thing and extradite him to Venezuela (where the bombing was planned), and hopefully they'll go after the other terrorists in the exile community.

But this is where we have the new bit of hypocrisy from the talking heads (and possibly from the government) of the right-wing. All of them are crying foul and saying, "Poor Posada, he'll be railroaded in Venezuela, he'll never get a fair trial and everyone deserves a fair trial, no matter what they've done. We absolutely cannot send him to Venezuela; he might get shot on the tarmac getting off the plane! That would be a terrible human rights violation!"

Now. Okay. I truly, deeply, wholeheartedly believe that everyone on this planet deserves a fair trial no matter what, so technically I agree with these crybabies (but it isn't very often that they're advocating fair trials for anyone unless it's Rush Limbaugh or someone in that ballpark. The rest of us can have the most corrupt trials in the world-- who gives a fuck?). What bothers me is that there are orders to shoot to kill Osama bin Laden and all his cohorts, with no chance of a fair trial, though some have mentioned things about heads being brought back to the U.S. in cardboard boxes (does that count as a fucking fair trial?). None of these talking heads are complaining about these shoot-to-kill orders for bin Laden, and when confronted about it, they say, "But he planned the murder of U.S. citizens! Why should he get a fair trial?" Okay, Posada planned and executed the murder of Cuban citizens, why do they think he deserves a fair trial but bin Laden does not? Why are these talking heads justifying the deaths of innocent Iraqi civilians as "collateral damage" and saying things like, "Well, the Iraqi people have to understand that freedom comes at a price. We Americans can see that, so they'll have to see it too."? Why are they casually dismissing these deaths while pining for the possible human rights violations of Luis Posada Carriles?

Like I said, I believe all human beings, even cretins like Posada and bin Laden, deserve fair trials and no one deserves to have their human rights violated. But don't you dare whine about how one murderer deserves a fair trial and special treatment, while you demand that another one be executed extrajudicially. And don't you dare dismiss the known human rights violations of one group of people (i.e. the Iraqi civilians) while you worry yourself to death about the possible human rights violation of another person. If you want to say that neither Posada nor bin Laden deserve fair trials, fine. That's consistent. I disagree with you, but you wouldn't be a hypocrite.

Otherwise, you're sending the message that innocent Cuban human beings are worth less than innocent American human beings, and that is just fucking wrong. Those 73 people deserve justice, and their families have been waiting almost 30 years for it. They didn't deserve to have some asshole terrorist living life as a king in Miami out in the open while the FBI and the President of the United States of America knew exactly where he lived and what he was doing for nearly every minute of every day, especially when this country is so sanctimonious about fighting "terror". Those 73 people deserve just as much justice as any American citizen deserves, and I hope Posada receives a fair trial in Venezuela, and I hope he spends the rest of his miserable life in jail there for being the ruthless and brutal murderer that he is.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Along the same lines...

Just to ramble a little more along the same lines as my last post:

The anti-choice crowd quotes one particular Bible verse almost more than any other when they want to "prove" that God is anti-abortion. It's Jeremiah 1:5 and it goes like this:

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.


I posted the whole verse, but italicized the part that the anti-choice groups really use (I've never heard them actually use the entire verse).

Now, I see where they're coming from so don't try and explain it to me, but it still doesn't make any sense, and their argument doesn't hold any water. Supposedly, according to them, this verse gives proof that God knows all humans before they are born and ascribes personhood and souls to said humans before they are born (even though the verse says nothing about that, just that God "knows" a person).

BUT...

Christians believe that God is all-knowing, right? (Yes, they do.) So if God knows everything and is aware of everything, then this verse doesn't really mean all that much. I mean, God knew 10,000 years ago that in the year 3000 A.D. a crippled cricket will be born in New Mexico in the rain at 2:37 p.m. (Just an example... I, for one, am not omniscient.) He knows everything that there is to know, from the most mundane thing, like a deformed leaf falling from a tree at exactly 5:33 a.m. on May 19th in the year 1933, to the most intricate things, like human beings.

And this doesn't even go into the fact that God was speaking to a specific person during a specific event in this verse. That's a whole 'nother issue there.

So the big lynchpin of the anti-choice Biblical argument holds little to no water. They'll have to do a lot better, and unless they find some long lost books of the Bible that have new verses dealing specifically with abortion, they won't be able to do better.

Kick Ass

This made my day. One of my biggest pet peeves is the Republicans' coopting religion and morals. There's more to the Christian faith than abortion and homosexuality (and abortion is nowhere in that big old Bible, even though it was widely practiced at the time that both the Old and New Testament were written). And you can be a moral and ethical person even if you're not a Christian. I don't believe either political party should co-opt any religion (God is neither a Republican or a Democrat, as the bumpersticker goes), but the Republican party is way out of bounds when they act as though they have a monopoly on faith and morals.

Jesus tackled issues such as peace, love and concern for ALL fellow human beings, poverty, and equality. He himself did not address homosexuality, and the Bible did not address abortion.

Anyway, some of the stuff at this site borders on paranoia and fringe-esque-like, so I wouldn't endorse everything, but Liberals Like Christ has some interesting stuff to peruse through. I particularly like the quotes and Bible verses describing why right-wingers put more faith in Paul than Jesus-- so, so true.

And the best ever site for progressive Christian news and articles (and a wonderful magazine if you can afford the $39.95 per year price tag-- I could last year, but not this year) is Sojourners. Do check it out. They're very sane and even-handed, not paranoid at all.

And if anyone wants to donate to my "Resubscribe to Sojourners" Fund, let me know... ;)

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Money where your mouth is...

The U.S. Armed Forces are facing a dire recruiting situation as of late (gee, I have no idea why?). Anyway, it goes without saying that those of us who have been opposed to this war in Iraq all along aren't exactly beating down the doors of the recruiting office screaming "Sign me up! Sign me up!" But apparently, the usual source of fresh blood, poor inner city youth, are actually becoming reluctant to join the armed forces. Again, I wonder why?

Sarcasm aside, kos has a solution in a series of posts: enlist the wingnuts! First the bloggers, the 101st Fighting Keyboardists:

Enlistment is down because of the War in Iraq -- a war that people like Jonah Goldberg and the rest of the 101st Fighting Keyboardists continue to support and defend. Yet while they continue to pimp a war that has cost us over 1,600 US dead, they themselves refuse to put their words into action and join our heroic (yet undermanned and underequipped) Armed Forces.


You must read the whole post, it's fascinating. I love the arguments that the wingnuts have for not enlisting-- I fully support the war, but I have a daughter. (I'm sure NONE of the soldiers in Iraq have children. I must have been smoking crack when I read the statistic of 1,000 children losing a parent to the war in Iraq.) This is not new, of course. During the Vietnam War, Dick Cheney got five deferments and when asked about it in the late 80's, early 90's, he said it was because he had "other priorities." Like none of the other millions of people who fought in that war did.

Second up for kos is the religious right establishment, and how they should be pushing their flocks to the recruitment office. There's quotes from Jerry Falwell and James Dobson glorifying the Iraq War through the eyes of the bible, but:

So how about these preachers, who think this war is oh-so-just, put their words in action and encourage their flock to enlist? But I couldn't find any such proclamations from these two preachers. Lots of boilerplate about "supporting the troops", but nothing encouraging their followers to put words to deeds.

It's the hallmark of the American Right, whether it's the American Taliban or the 101st Fighting Keyboardists -- cowardice masked by tough words and no action.


And finally, it's the good ol' pundits. You aren't allowed to say anything on TV remotely critical of the war because you're "not supporting the troops! How dare you!" But as kos points out, Hannity and O'Reilly are doing little to get their flock out of their business attire or hunting gear and into the recruiting office.

If anyone is actually still reading ME, I have my own personal story. I was watching highlights of the Republican National Convention and desperately holding back the vomit when they began to interview some Young Republicans who were all "Rah-rah War in Iraq! It's the best war EVER!" So the interviewer actually had the audacity to say, "If you support the war so much, don't you feel a duty to fight for your country?"

His answer? "Well, I believe I can do more for my country here as a political science student. But if we were attacked again, like 9/11, oh yeah, I'm there!"

First of all, what an idiot. Yeah, he's doing us a buttload of good being ANOTHER political science student. We don't have enough of those.

And though I hate to humor the idea that 9/11 and Iraq are somehow related, he's full of shit on his second point. We could have ten 9/11-like attacks next week and he wouldn't make it within a ten mile radius of a recruitment office. And even if he were this big brave man to the rescue, why do we have to be attacked a freaking SECOND time for him to get involved? How many times do we have to get attacked before he is willing to risk HIS life, as opposed to the lives of all the other thousands of military men and women that he and his ilk are so callous about?

But no matter. If another attack came, or a draft, by that time he'd probably have a wife or a baby, so he'd have "better priorities" to do than fight in a war and he'd be able to get out of it.

Thinking is just soooo hard to do...

Man, we Americans have it so easy, we almost never have to think critically about things. We're spoonfed our opinions by the nightly news, even if it's WRONG, and other things like current events and international affairs, hell, we just don't have to care about them so that saves us even more thinking time.

Today's new outrage is that the U.S. is going to give some money to the states to help alleviate the costs of paying for healthcare for illegal immigrants. Before I put my "critical thinking skills" into much needed action, this can indeed be an outrage. All over the news this morning, right wingers were dismayed about the 45+ million Americans without any health insurance whatsoever, which is interesting, because just a couple of weeks ago, these same people (*cough* Hannity *cough, cough* O'Reilly *cough, cough* and their ilk) talked about these 45+ million people without insurance as worthless trash who can't get a job and quit smoking crack and forego every other stereotype out there. And when liberals talk about giving these 45+ million people universal healthcare, we're called Communists. So forgive me if the right winger's concern over these poor uninsured Americans really doesn't pass as sincere in my book.

Anyway, getting off the subject of the right wing scumbags, it seems like common sense almost to get our own citizens insured first before we pay for illegal immigrants, right? Right??

Well... This is where that critical thinking thing comes in. I know it takes a little time, but trust me, it's worth it.

What we have here are really two separate issues. The huge amount of uninsured Americans is one issue, and one that isn't applicable here, despite the media pulling in the comparison constantly. So even though that issue is important, forget it for just a moment. It has nothing to do with this one case.

The other issue is the number of illegal immigrants who are already here, for whatever reason (and immigration itself is another issue that should not be compared or conflated with this particular case either, despite the media, again, doing it). When someone is on U.S. soil and that person is in need of emergency treatment, s/he cannot be turned away from any hospital. That is the law, whether it's an illegal immigrant, a citizen with no insurance, or Donald Trump. So the U.S. has already been treating illegal immigrants in hospitals, but the states have been left to foot the bill. This decision by the federal government is simply to give up to a billion dollars to help shoulder the costs that the states have had to take on.

Now, it's easy to say, "U.S. hospitals shouldn't be treating illegal immigrants!" So let's look at that argument. Most of the time, these people are poor, extraordinarily poor. They can also come from countries where there are diseases running rampant that the U.S. hasn't seen in decades, if ever. I'm not saying all immigrants are disease-ridden, but it is in OUR best interest to make sure that the ones who are sick are treated for any illnesses because it could be something spreadable to the general U.S. population. If we leave sick illegal immigrants rotting on the street, there's a possibility that their illness can spread into the air, the groundwater, etc. Diseases that Americans have not been exposed to in a while or ever could be catastrophic, because we would not have built up an immunity. So it is in our best interest to make sure these people are treated.

If we're willing to spend $300 billion on a war that no one remembers what we're fighting for anymore and billions more on tax cuts for the rich that we can't afford in the first place, then $1 billion to keep us from getting sick, and to keep state budgets from going under, and oh yeah, to keep illegal immigrants from dying (because despite the vilification, they are people too, with families, and mothers and fathers and children and brothers and sisters and husbands and wives and hopes and dreams), then I'm not going to complain.

The problem is just that it takes a little bit of thinking to get to that point, and Americans have become so anti-thinking.

And oh yeah, unless you are a native American, you or your ancestors were once immigrants, maybe even an illegal immigrant. None of us owns this country, and if we keep teaching our children this big "melting pot" theory of how life is in America, then we can't try and do everything we can to keep the non-white people out. At some point we might have to live what we preach.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Ironies of the Criminal Justice System

Or one of them, at least... I bet you think this is going to be another Jennifer Wilbanks post. Well, fiddle dee doo to you, it isn't.

Actually, it's not about any one case in particular, just something that happens quite often that bugs me.

A common practice in our lovely criminal justice system here in America is that if you're charged with capital murder (meaning, you can get the death penalty), you can sometimes get out of getting the death penalty if you plead guilty. So as long as you're willing to say "I did it!" then you're rewarded with your life. But this is a ploy that ends up with a lot of innocent people on death row (yes, you bet your sweet ass it happens) and both a lot of guilty people serving life sentences and a lot of really scared shitless innocent people serving life sentences.

Let's look at three scenarios:

1. Let's say I'm arrested for the murder of some random person, and let's say in this case that I did it. I'm totally guilty, I did it and it was done in total cold blood. I'm a bad, bad person. Anyway, knowing how stone-cold guilty I am, I'm facing the death penalty if I go to trial. But the district attorney offers me a sweet, sweet deal, saying, "Girlfriend, if you'll just say you're guilty and save us the expense of a trial, I'll give you life in prison instead of the death penalty." Ho boy, unless there's some major extenuating circumstances (like an insanity defense that could actually be pulled off), then I'm going to take it. I don't care to be strapped on that gurney, no matter how freaking guilty I am.

But...

2. Let's say I'm arrested for the murder of some random person, and in THIS case I didn't do it. I'm totally innocent, it's false eyewitness reports that put me there, totally bogus evidence, etc. Again, you bet your sweet ass this scenario happens. Anyway, I'm NOT a bad person, and knowing how innocent I am, I'm still facing the death penalty if I go to trial. But the D.A. offers me a deal, saying, "Girlfriend, if you'll just say you're guilty and save us the expense of a trial, I'll give you life in prison instead of the death penalty." Well, since I know I'm innocent, I might say, "Fuck you, I'm innocent, I'm taking this to trial! I'm not going to the gas chamber for something I didn't do!" And I'll go to trial: if I'm rich, I stand a pretty good chance of getting through to the jury, if I'm poor, forget it-- I'm dead. It doesn't matter how innocent you are, people in this position get convicted and get sentenced to death on a weekly basis in our country.

THEN...

3. There's also the case, similar to #2, where I'm innocent but faced with either the death penalty or life in prison. Depending on how scared shitless I am, I might even decide to plead guilty just to avoid the death penalty, even though I'm totally 100% stone-cold innocent. This also happens all the time. In this scenario, I would serve a life sentence for a crime I didn't commit so that I could avoid the death penalty and not get railroaded at a trial.

It's often said that we have the best criminal justice system in the world, and that may be true (I doubt it, especially as long as we have the death penalty), but regardless, there are several flaws in the system that must be fixed. This plea bargaining system that rewards the guilty and punishes the innocent is one such flaw. Another is the pig-headed, stubborn, narcisistic prosecutors who prosecute people on flimsy evidence just to get convictions and close the book on criminal cases, even if they've got the wrong guy.

But that's just me.

Edited to add: I should clarify that as someone who is passionately opposed to the death penalty in ALL circumstances, I am more than okay with even guilty people getting life sentences. It's simply the position that defendants are put in when they are asked to plead guilty and get a life sentence instead of the death penalty that I oppose. It reeks of blackmail and, at the very least, poor ethics.

My letter to Danny Porter

First of all, Danny Porter sounds like a serial killer's name. That's most likely because I'm thinking of Danny Rolling, the Gainesville Ripper. But alas, the Danny Porter I wrote to today is not a serial killer. Not that I know of, at least. He's the district attorney of Gwinnett County, Georgia, where the infamous Runaway Bride case is unfolding. He's in charge of deciding whether or not to charge Jennifer Wilbanks with a crime, and I thought I would let my opinion be known, since he said on the news the other day that he's received quite a bit of emails and that most are in the "Put her head on a bloody stake" camp. Anyway, in lieu of posting about the gender and legal implications of the case, I'm simply posting my letter to Porter, since it touches on those issues, though it of course does not go into great academic detail. Oh well. If you are so inclined to write Porter yourself, his email is: Danny.Porter@gwinnettcounty.com

Dear District Attorney Porter:

I am aware that you are receiving a lot of email regarding the Jennifer Wilbanks case, most of it demanding that you prosecute her to the fullest. However, I am writing the exact opposite. I believe this is a case that at worst belongs in the civil courts, and at best simply needs to be a private family matter solved without public intrusion.

Until she picked up the phone and claimed to be kidnapped, Wilbanks committed no crime. All adults have the constitutional right to disappear in this country, no matter how much money is spent searching for them or how many hearts are broken in the meantime. Therefore, your only opportunity to charge her with a crime is for the kidnap hoax. However, her kidnap hoax was dismantled within 2-3 hours-- it is extremely unlikely that much, if any, tax money or police man hours were spent on her ludicrous story.

I find it ironic that nearly every day, men walk out on their lives and their families on purpose to little or no fanfare and certainly to not even a fraction of the publicity and uproar that has come about as a result of the Jennifer Wilbanks case. We all know the story of "I'm going out for a pack of cigarettes", when the men in fact never return. None of these men are ever splashed across major news channels, and as a result, none of these men have thousands of police man hours spent on their safe return. And as a result, none of these men are vilified to remotely the amount that America, the press, and Georgia public officials have vilified Jennifer Wilbanks.

I also find it ironic that one major issue of contention is the amount of money spent on searching for Jennifer Wilbanks. This is an understandable conundrum, and one that could quite easily and reasonably be settled in a civil court. However, it is almost as if your office is trying to fight one wrong with another wrong. If the concern over money is so great, then how about the amount of tax dollars that would be spent on prosecuting Ms. Wilbanks? Prosecuting someone is never cheap, and a high profile case such as this would strain even the most robust budgets. And yet, putting someone like Jennifer Wilbanks in jail would do nothing for the initial concern of money; it would only serve as revenge and blood lust for the people who are angry at being tricked.

I implore you to use your limited resources on more important cases to lock up real criminals, and I ask that you leave Ms. Wilbanks and her family alone. They have suffered enough, and putting her in jail or charging her with a crime will not solve anything. I am sure you have much better things to do with your time, your job, and your office's resources than to prosecute this women for telling a lie that ultimately caused little damage.

Sincerely,

me
my address
my state


Well, there you go.

Baltic Brain-Death

If you watch even five minutes of this so-called-Liberal Media, you'd know that Bush is starting his European trip in the Baltic states (and what a wonderful job he's doing! If you don't agree with that, then you're a communist and a member of the massive Liberal conspiracy to take over our news! Now coming up on Bill O'Reilly and Hannity and Colmes, "Do Democrats cause cancer? We won't tell you unless you switch your party affiliation NOW!").

Phew. I can rant with the best of them. But the funniest thing is not what the media itself did, but what Bush said today in an address to these people in the Baltic states. He said, "We (Americans) remember your painful history."

Now, no doubt whatsoever that the Baltic nations have had a tremendously painful history, I will not even come close to denying that. What I'm having a bit of trouble with is the insinuation of even a small percentage of Americans knowing a damn thing about the Baltic states in the first place.

I dare, even double-dare, just 50% of Americans aged 18-60 to locate the three Baltic states on a map and name them. Just 50%. I don't have high standards. I'm even excluding those people still maneuving through our inadequate school system, and the people old enough to remember when said Baltic states were just the western coast of Russia and the Soviet Union. So really, it shouldn't be that difficult. And I'm not even asking anyone what these countries' painful histories were, even though Bush seems confident that his fellow countrymen and women know all about it! Just name them and point to them on a map!

I doubt even 10 percent of Americans aged 18-60 could do what I'm asking, much less tell you one little detail about the painful histories of the Baltic nations. So Georgie Boy, I know you're trying to make friends with the Europeans after you've heaped buckets of feces in their direction ever since you took office, but don't lie to them or patronize them. They deserve better than that, they deserve better than you, and they deserve better than having a country trying to play nice-nice with them only when it serves that country's interest.

And by the way, it's Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia. Absolutely beautiful countries wrought with history, both good and bad, but amazing places that everyone should know about. And everyone should be able to point to them on a fucking map.

Friday, May 06, 2005

The Golden Girls and Current Events

Can everything in current events be traced back to The Golden Girls? It's an interesting theory that I'm sure is being researched by all the top scientists in all the top universities across the country. One of today's seven GG episodes on Lifetime (don't ask me how I know that there are seven, or whether or not I actually watch all seven...) has an interesting correlation to the current Jennifer Wilbanks frenzy.

Sophia and Rose went to a funeral and wake where the guests had a wonderful time telling stories about the dead guy's life and celebrating his life. Sophia thought it was a shame that the dead guy wasn't there to see what people were saying about him, so she decided to throw her own wake, even though she was alive. The problem came when Rose sent out the invitations: she invited everyone to Sophia's wake, but forgot to mention that Sophia was actually alive. So of course everyone thought Sophia was dead.

The guests all show up at the famous GG house sobbing and crying and mourning over the loss of Sophia and wishing they could have just one more minute with her. But lo and behold, when Sophia walks out, very much alive, their sadness immediately turns to anger and fury at being tricked. One woman says, "Sophia, I drove 30 miles and missed a day of work to be here. I think it's very selfish of you NOT to be dead!"

So here we have a similar conundrum to the Jennifer Wilbanks case, one that makes me quite angry. When Jennifer was missing and presumed dead, everyone was despondent, sad, and in the typical, "oh, what a tragedy, if only she were alive" state. The minute she DOES turn up alive, however, everyone is demanding apologies, jail time, monetary damages, head on a stake, etc.

I'm going to post again on the gender and legal implications of this case (yeah, I'm sure there's more important things to blog about, but that's why we have Kos and Americablog and Echidne), but it's interesting how so many things today can all be traced back to The Golden Girls.

Saturday, April 30, 2005

Whiny Blogging

I'm going to complain about something, and dammit, it's my blog, so I'm going to complain if I want to.

Since Tuesday night, the talking heads on the media have been begging and pleading for the safe return of Jennifer Wilbanks, the bride-to-be who went missing on her jog on Tuesday night. The horrible things that could have happend to her were all played out for us: kidnapping, rape, murder, etc. There were also quiet rumblings about "cold feet" and whenever that was mentioned, the family members and the talking heads would always say, "Oh wouldn't it be wonderful if that were the case and she was alive!"

Well, that did turn out to be the case, and guess what? Now everyone is less than thrilled. Immediately the anger and vitriol started. I have to ask why, when the best case scenario happend, is everyone so angry? Wasn't everyone's biggest concern that Jennifer be found alive? If it wasn't, what does that say about the media and the people who are watching the news and saying these things? (I'll give you a hint: the words "sensationalist" and "selfish" and "narrow-minded" are on the tip of my tongue.)

So why would Jennifer Wilbanks run away only days before her wedding?

First of all, this was a HUGE wedding, with over 600 guests and 28 attendants. Whoever paid for this wedding likely put in a ton of money. Jennifer would have had to put in a large amount of time and sacrifice into planning the wedding (anybody tried to plan a traditional wedding recently? I don't know how you come out of it without committing suicide, personally...). Her bridesmaids had already put in a ton of money. The guests had already made arrangements for travel and gifts, etc. Also, I don't know about her family, but her fiance's family is a very prominent and powerful family in the community. This all together amounts to an extraordinary amount of pressure for anyone, especially someone who may be facing second thoughts about marrying someone and spending the rest of her life with that person. It's one thing to face that kind of pressure when you're 100% absolutely sure that the guy is Mr. Right, and quite another to face it when you're not sure.

How do you think her family and friends and fiance would have reacted on Tuesday (with the wedding on Saturday) if she had said, "Eh, I'm having second thoughts, I don't think I want to get married on Saturday after all." They would have most likely reacted with fury, reminding her how much time and effort and money and reputation have all gone into the wedding. It is unlikely that they would have been very sympathetic and understanding and caring.

This is what she was facing, and this was probably why she felt she had to run away rather than just tell people, "I don't want to get married."

So why did she come up with the story of being abducted?

Haven't you ever been scared, and wanted to dig yourself out of a hole? Jennifer probably didn't think her disappearance would garner as much attention and scrutiny as it did, and once she realized that, she felt less able to simply explain the situation away with the "cold feet" excuse. Look at how everyone in America and in the media reacted. Everyone was overjoyed when they thought she was alive after being kidnapped, but then many people, aside from her family, were actually pissed off to find out that she had simply run away.

That, to me, is absolutely disturbing. No, I'm not condoning what Jennifer did (understanding it and condoning it are two different things). But there were actually people this morning who would have preferred to have had Jennifer kidnapped and harmed (it's unlikely that she could have been kidnapped and NOT harmed in some way) than to have had the story end with her simply running away. There were actually people disappointed and ANGRY that the outcome was cold feet as opposed to kidnapping, the latter of which is a scenario that likely would have led to permanent mental scarring and could have involved unspeakable sexual, mental and physical abuse.

That speaks volumes to me about what this country and what human beings are all about. Yes, Jennifer acted in a selfish manner and put her family and friends and fiance through hell by not letting them know she was alive, but it would NOT have been better for her to have been kidnapped and have [insert some abuse] happen to her. It's also preposterous to me that people cannot see what would have driven her to do such a thing. Maybe I shouldn't overgeneralize, but I've felt for a long time that Americans are among the world's worst people at putting themselves in other people's shoes and just thinking, for even five minutes, of what life might be like as someone else. I think that's what is needed in this case as well, but too few people are doing it.

The whole ordeal has disgusted me, but not for the reasons most people are disgusted. I think the best case scenario happend-- she was found alive and was not hurt in any way. If she had been found murdered, the news anchors would have been practically having orgasms giving us the details; instead, they're visibly furious that they were "duped" (who told them to blow the story out of proportion in the first place anyway? If they feel duped, it's their own damn fault.) and angry to report that she's alive. Oh, the horror. How awful to report a happy ending.

And finally, all the news reports are saying "Bride-to-be Faked Abduction Story" or something along those lines. Yes, that's technically true, but let's put that in perspective. She went missing Tuesday night, and called early this (Saturday) morning. Until her phone call, she was simply missing, but with her phone call came the abduction story. Within 2-3 HOURS, after having been missing 3-4 DAYS, this story was fully debunked and discredited. So the abduction story, to me, amounts to a small portion of the whole ordeal, and she didn't hold onto it for long at all. The more honest emphasis should be on her getting cold feet, not the abduction story. But that's just not sensational enough...

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Book Report

Every once in a while I read a book that blows me away, and last week, whilst at home sick with an intestinal bug, I read one. I guess it wasn't the book itself, but the story, since it's a true story and a heartbreaking and heartwarming one all at once. So without further ado, here it is: Contempt of Court: The Turn-of-the-Century Lynching That Launched a Hundred Years of Federalism.

It's also a story where I can tell you the whole damn thing and you can still read the book and be enthralled, so you know what? I'm going to tell you the gist of it, because I know most of the world isn't going to sit down and read the book (unfortunately there's no TV movie based on it either, since our society is so anti-reading now).

In 1905, a woman named Nevada Taylor was raped at night near her home in Chattanooga. After some thinking and serious prodding from the sheriff (Sheriff Shipp) and her father, she thought the rapist might be a black man, but she did not ever see his face. Well, of course, this being the South in the early 20th century, the city lusted for blood and rounded up the first black man they could get their hands on-- Ed Johnson. Johnson could easily prove his innocence, but no matter. Within days he was convicted and sentenced to death. (Up to this point, the story is very similar to To Kill A Mockingbird. Which, according to history, is very similar so daily reality at that time, unfortunately.)

Anyway, of course, stories like this happend all the time across the south at that time (and strangely enough, they still do today, though not on the same level). But this story ended differently. Two very brave black lawyers, Styles Hutchins and Noah Parden, took on Ed Johnson's appeal, much to the chagrin of the local Chattanoogans, who wanted him dead by the end of the week (death sentences in those days WERE carried out within 1-2 weeks of convictions). To cut short a long story of legal wrangling in the state courts, let's just say the Tennessee state courts wouldn't have anything to do with the case.

But Hutchins and Parden were undeterred. They actually took the case all the way to the Supreme Court. This was absolutely unprecedented, for two reasons. One, at that time, the SCOTUS rarely, if ever, dealt with state criminal cases like it does today. Second, though this was not the first time in history it had happend, it was still a momentous occasion for black attorneys to be heard before the SCOTUS.

And be heard they were. The justices were all outraged at Ed Johnson's trial, or lack thereof. They immediately issued him a stay of execution and sent notice Sheriff Shipp and other Chattanooga authorities notifying them of the stay.

Needless to say, the mood in Chattanooga was bitter and angry and vengeful. Within a day or two, a lynch mob was formed. The details are, of course, sketchy, but on March 19, 1906 all prisoners sharing the floor with Ed Johnson were moved to a separate floor and most policemen were told to take the night off. A lynch mob gathered outside the jail, easily broke in and kidnapped Ed Johnson from the jail. They dragged him to a local bridge, hung him from a rope, fired dozens of bullets into him, and then dropped him into the river below. His last words were, "God bless you all. I am a innocent man."

And yet the story still doesn't end there. The SCOTUS was again outraged and decided to take action. At first, they just weren't quite sure how, but finally they decided to charge Sheriff Shipp and others involved in the lynch mob with the charge of contempt of court. Since I have a headache and this post is getting long, I'll start winding it down. Not everyone was found guilty, but Sheriff Shipp and several others were, and were sentenced to several months worth of jail. Unfortunately, they all returned home to a heroes' welcome and lived their lives out as public icons and never had to suffer any serious consequenses as a result of their despicable actions. The case itself set a huge precedent for the Supreme Court and its ability to intervene in state cases, despite being virtually forgotten by history. And thanks to the first publication of the book and the publicity it generated, the state of Tennessee finally threw out Ed Johnson's conviction and declared him an innocent man, in the year 2000, 94 years after his death.

Anyway, good book, amazing and tragic story. Read it if you get the chance.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Where Was I?

So except for my recent Pope-fest post, it's been FIVE MONTHS since I've written on this heavily trafficked blog! ;) But where have I been?

Emotionally drained, that's where. That election hit me hard. Bush "won", my arch-nemesis David Vitter won a Senate seat (giving him MORE power), this total blow-hard Bobby Jindal won a seat in the House for my district. All bad, bad, DIRE news. At first I took it pretty well. I said, "Screw this, we'll just fight harder." But then I started noticing that no matter how hard you fight, there's always so many idiots out there willing to believe the bullshit Bush pumps out, there's always the right-wing media to grind your ass back into the mud, there's always politicians desperate to take away your rights.

This isn't a pep-talk. I'm still down about politics and about this country in general. I'm very worried and frightened. But I'm going to try and face it again, rather than spend five months shying away from anything political and especially my beloved blog (that no one reads...).

So that's where I've been. And in a delicious irony, yesterday and today, I've seen two of those Ad Council ads for registerandvote2004.org. A little late, are we?

Friday, April 08, 2005

On the Pope

"Oh my God," you're thinking, "this blogger comes back from the dead to post about the fucking POPE??!!"

I know, I know. It's that old Catholic guilt, I can't help it. I've never officially been a Catholic, but went to a Catholic school and was indoctrinated very well in that religion, thank you very much. I gave up on organized religion at age 15 and I've spent the last 9 or so years in a state of deep inner spirituality and feeling closely connected to God on a very personal, private manner while being outwardly agnostic (you think I want to be associated with today's Christians? When people like Bush and Jerry Falwell and Randall Terry claim the religion? I don't think so!).

I'm very torn on Pope John Paul II. I know, it's not "PC" to talk bad about him now. People like Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity had no qualms talking shit about him when he was alive, but now they're lying prostrate before him and proclaiming him to be the perfect Republican pope out there. There's a word for that: hypocrites. I prefer not to be one.

But PJPII did a lot of good during his reign, and I'll be the first to admit it. His stance on capital punishment, capitalism, concern for the poor, and war were commendable and brave. He was one of the few people brave enough to stand up to Bush regarding the Iraq War. Considering that only a couple of centuries ago, popes were committing murders, waging wars, fathering children out of wedlock, etc. themselves, this is a vast improvement. (Don't believe me? Open a history book sometime, one that isn't revisionist... Hell, you really only need to look up one word: BORGIA. All of Shakespeare's tragedies combined couldn't rival that story.)

Anyway, there's also the bad stuff PJPII did during his reign. His stance on abortion, while I fervently disagree with it and I believe it puts women's lives in extreme danger, is at least in line with that naive notion of "pro-life" and he stayed pretty consistent with that (though I would welcome him and people who believe that to venture out into the real world sometime and see how it works). But his continued resistance to birth control was not only reckless but in the end it works against the anti-abortion cause by causing more unwanted pregnancies. And it shows the regard with which the papacy and the Vatican hold women in general: we are only as useful as our wombs are full and flowing. If we don't want to be like the Virgin Mary and have our own baby Jesuses, then we are wicked selfish feminists who are responsible for much of the evil in the world today.

And the pope did nothing to make homosexuals feel welcome in the Church; in fact, he did the opposite, by explicitly claiming that homosexuality is an "ideology of evil." In 1992, he even spoke out against America making it a crime to discriminate against homosexuals in the workplace. Something tells me that Jesus, who himself never said anything about homosexuality in the Bible, would not be happy. But hey, it sure bridged that gap between the evangelical Protestants and Catholics. Meanwhile, gay teens have the highest rate of suicide in the U.S. When someone like the Pope calls homosexuality evil, he may think he's following catechism (and maybe he is, and maybe he's right, I don't have the pipeline to God, but neither does anyone else), but what he DOES contribute to is our society thinking it's okay to think badly of gays, to taunt them, to think they're bad people, to think they're evil. What does that do to a confused teenager who can't find support anywhere? Why is it any surprise that so many of them turn to suicide?

But I haven't even gotten to my biggest gripe with the pope. Everyone is already talking about sainthood and that this is the holiest of popes we've ever had. How quickly everyone has forgotten his behavior during the child molestation scandal. The Boston archdiocese was one of the largest affected church diocese in America, with hundreds or thousands of kids molested over several decades, all under the watchful and very-much-knowing eye of Archbishop Bernard Law. When one parishioner came forward with allegations of abuse, Law would guilt them into shutting up (anyone will do anything if you're afraid of eternal damnation) and then would quickly transfer that priest to a new parish where no one knew anything. This literally went on for decades. When the truth finally came out, Law had to resign in disgrace.

Within a year or two, the pope annointed him to a position in the Vatican as a cardinal. It was an absolute slap in the face for all the little children who were abused by priests while Law stood by and permitted it. From a church that prides itself on being pro-life and ranting about "children being a gift from God," we got a move like that from our pope. Think of what that did to the people suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder from their experiences with priest molestation.

I don't wish eternal hellfire and damnation on many people, and least of all, the Pope. (Though Cardinal Bernard Law is certainly someone who deserves it, in my book.) But if Pope John Paul II walked through those pearly gates immediately upon his death on Saturday, I hope, at the very least, that he got the biggest and most though-provoking lecture from God that he ever could've imagined. He may not deserve to suffer through eternal hell, but he needs to at least know of the suffering he caused on this earth.

Saturday, November 06, 2004

Short Random Blogging

I'm not going to waste time giving you my opinions on the election outcome, because you can just skim over my posts below and know how I feel. Within five seconds. So let's talk about other things, like what others are saying and like what else is going on in the world. Pull up a chair. We'll chat.

First, there's a lot of "lists" out there right now, and they're fairly good if you need a quick pick-me-up. Michael Moore has, on his front page, 17 Reasons Not to Slit Your Wrists. Since I'm sick of hearing about Bush's "mandate", I'm posting my favorite reason below:

16. There are nearly 300 million Americans -- 200 million of them of voting age. We only lost by three and a half million! That's not a landslide -- it means we're almost there. Imagine losing by 20 million. If you had 58 yards to go before you reached the goal line and then you barreled down 55 of those yards, would you stop on the three yard line, pick up the ball and go home crying -- especially when you get to start the next down on the three yard line? Of course not! Buck up! Have hope! More sports analogies are coming!!!


Michael Moore did not include the most important reason not to slit your wrists: Bush isn't fucking worth it. And that's all I'll say on that. Anyway, onto the always wonderful Guerilla Girls! They actually have a list of The Advantages of Another Bush Presidency. Ahhh, always looking on the bright side... And last but not least, as far as I know at least, is Ten Reasons Not to Move to Canada (though it doesn't mention mention moving to a blue state).

Huh. Don't we all feel better now...

If you are like me and are now firmly decided to leave your red state in the dust and move to a blue one (that way oversimplifies it, there IS more to it than that), then these fun maps will help.

Anyway, for more election and political blogging, be sure to keep up with the DailyKos blog. There's a lot of suspicious stuff surrounding this last election, and you know what? I don't feel like writing about it. Too tired. Too much wanting to move forward and fight like hell in the future. It's very valuable for people to go ahead and discuss it, since knowing the past helps make sure the future doesn't contain the same fuck-ups and frauds, but I'm going to be selfish and let other people take on that task...

Okay, second to last on the docket, though probably most important on the docket, is this post at feministing.com and this one at echidne's blog. It's the shit we have to look forward to if Roe v. Wade is either reversed or made even more impotent. Abortion is a high crime in Portugal, and because criminalizing abortion does not STOP abortions (please, PLEASE listen for once, right wingers!!!) then women are suffering tremendously-- 1,000 women last year alone had to be hospitalized from complications from illegal abortions. This in a country of 10 million people. Imagine the number in a country of 300 million. Let's imagine it only, and fight to keep it from being a reality.

Finally, there's a lot of people distraught and whining about what to do. That's fine. Take some time off to mourn if you need to, go and do something fun for yourself, like splurging on a new shirt or a new CD you've been wanting, or watching your favorite movie Pride and Prejudice 5,000 times in a week (oops, did I just say that out loud??).

But come back soon and re-join the fight. Mourning for the next four years will not help our cause. In my opinion, on of our biggest areas of concern in the fight is the media, particularly the television news. We have to fight its bias, we have to fight its bad habit of conveniently leaving out important items of news while telling us every minute detail about Jessica Simpson's marriage and Scott Peterson's murder trial. So every time you see something obviously biased, write them. Tell them. Look what we managed to do with Sinclair-- we brought them close to their fucking knees. (A side note: if you're in school or have a family or whatever, this form of activism may not work with Fox"News." If you wrote them for every biased piece of quote-unquote journalism, you'd probably end up neglecting your grades or your spouse and/or children. Focus on the other channels for now.)

Click on the websites to your right, the ones under "Organizations and Charities." Most of them have "Action Alert" email sign-ups. Do that. Set up some random Hotmail account just for activism stuff, so that it doesn't clog up your other inboxes. But when they ask you to take action, do it. It takes between 5 seconds and 2 minutes apiece, and if enough of us do it, it'll make a difference.

Finally, for your stress level, try to avoid having a work environment like mine, where all your coworkers are avid Bush supporters who actually say, with a straight face, some of the following:

1. Saddam Hussein financed and helped orchestrate the Sept. 11 attacks.
2. Terrorists attack us because they hate the fact that we have freedom and we're a rich country.
3. We're totally rebuilding everything in Iraq.
4. Freedom comes at a heavy cost, and the Iraqis should understand that and be happy about what we're doing.
5. The media is so hopelessly liberal, I can't trust the news or statistics. Even Fox News has a liberal bias to it.
6. You can say what you want, but Bush has convictions. He is NOT a flip-flopper. He stands by what he says. And it's important for a president to appeal to the common people. I can see that he's not very smart, and he's not very articulate, but I believe that those would not affect his decision making regarding our country.
7. What's NOT to like about Bush????


Yes, that is my daily life. You may pity me now...

Okay, let's all regroup, let's all get inspired, let's all fight our asses off. Because we're right, and we will win. It's as simple as that.