Gentilly Girl- a part of the 99%

July 19, 2006

We are grandmothers now!

Filed under: Aside — Tags: — Morwen Madrigal @ 6:02 am

At 4:30 A.M., Betts and I became Grannies. Our young cat Spikette had her first, and only, litter. In a few days I expect le Button to have hers.

This a fault of the Alien, the little feral that appeared in Candie’s house whilst we were in exile. (Little horndog just couldn’t mind his own business.) He has a date with a scapel next week.

I was searching in the closet for Spikette, and felt wet fur. She came out with one baby, and then she birthed the other one in my hands. Such tiny things. She immediantly carried one back into her lair, and I gently set the other next to her. She is sitting there keeping watch over her kids.

Such a strange thing. I’ve been so used to the concept of death all of my life, but never birth. I saw magic tonight, even was a part of it.  Our little girl let me touch her babies with nary a snarl. I’m staying awake and keeping an eye on the newcomers.  (I think she likes me being close by.)

Yes I know that it’s about cats, but any new life here in the city moves me to tears, whether it’s budding plants or the furry ones, life goes on. Our city will come back too.

July 17, 2006

True Definitions….

I read a story on the New Orleans Sun site and my blood began to boil. Though many of the Block Grant monies to Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi are gifts of the American taxpayers to help folks who have been affected by the biggest Natural disaster to hit our country, the monies appropriated for New Orleans are the down-payment of the reparations we so obviously deserve.

Reparations is the operative term for those from New Orleans. Right now it’s the homeowners who are getting payed for the damages caused from the faulty levees, soon it will be time to re-emburse those who were renters. The Federal Guv’mit has so much to atone for their failures and lies to those of us who call New Orleans our home.

The levees failed, plain and simple. It wasn’t even a storm surge that they were “built” for. We
were freakin’ screwed by the Corps of Engineers. We were hung out to dry, or in this case, to drown.

Our house is not in a Floodplain, but the failure of the London Ave. Canal did us in. I lost five years of research, and Pirate Princess lost over $10K of material and equipment. My friend who founded Pirate Princess deserves reparations, as do us all. None of us did anything wrong. The actions, un-actions, of the COE were what hurt us.

We trusted, and now we know we were lied to. We put our faith in a Federal program, and later learned that it was a sham. Over 1,400 people died becuase of those mis-truths. This is unacceptable.

We need another $5B or more to answer the injuries to New Orleanians. This IS required. We were lied to and screwed…. now it’s time to pay the piper.

I stand for New Orleans.

July 16, 2006

Molly Ivins- The Politics of American Greed

Filed under: Civic Blogging,Progressive News — Tags: , — Morwen Madrigal @ 3:01 pm

I have been reading Molly Ivins for almost twenty years. She is one of my bulwarks and an information source. Though this essay by her is about wages and pensions, it also illustrates the dilemma that we on the Gulf Coast face post-Katrina/Deluge.

The current Administration does not care for the “little People”. It’s almost as if we time-slipped back to the feudal era in Europe. We are the serfs, subject to the whim of our masters. Fuck them… this is America, and once again, this cannot stand.

It’s time to fight, not just for our beloved city, but for the soul of a Nation, a country that believed in fairness and continuity of Culture. The genesis of the new Progressive movement shall start here in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. We can attest to what the current regime is up to.

Money IS NOT the ruling factor in America, people are. This must be re-emphasized as it is the reason for the Founding of the country. This country is about the individual, not the corporations and their stooges.

We in New Orleans will lead the way to a revolution in American politics. (More to come)

Sinn Fein!

The Politics of American Greed

By Molly Ivins, AlterNet
Posted on July 11, 2006, Printed on July 16, 2006

I don’t get it. What’s the percentage in keeping the minimum wage at $5.15 an hour? After nine years? This is such an unnecessary and nasty Republican move. Congress has voted seven times to raise its own wages since last the minimum wage budged. Of course, Congress always raises its own salary in the dark of night, hoping no one will notice. But now it does the same with the minimum wage, quietly killing it.

Anyone who doesn’t think this is a country where the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer needs to check the numbers — this is Bush country, where a rising tide lifts all yachts.

According to the current issue of Mother Jones:

  • One in four U.S. jobs pays less than a poverty-level income.
  • Since 2000, the number of Americans living below the poverty line at any one time has risen steadily. Now, 13 percent — 37 million Americans — are officially poor.
  • Bush’s tax cuts (extended until 2010) save those earning between $20,000 and $30,000 an average of $10 a year, while those making $1 million are saved $42,700.
  • In 2002, Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, compared those who point out such statistics as the one above to Adolph Hitler (surely he meant Stalin?).
  • Bush has diverted $750 million to “healthy marriages” by shifting funds from social services, mostly childcare.
  • Bush has proposed cutting housing programs for low-income people with disabilities by 50 percent.
  • A series of related stats — starting with the news that two out of three new jobs are in the suburbs — shows how the poor are further disadvantaged in the job hunt by lack of public or private transportation.

Meanwhile, for those who have been following the collapse of the pension system, please note a series in The Wall Street Journal by Ellen Schultz taking a hard look at executive pension obligations:

  • “Benefits for executives now account for a significant share of pension obligations in the United States, an average of 8 percent (of large companies). Sometimes a company’s obligation for a single executive’s pension approaches $100 million.”
  • “These liabilities are largely hidden, because corporations don’t distinguish them from overall pension obligations in their federal financial findings.”
  • “As a result, the savings that companies make by curtailing pensions of regular retirees — which have totaled billions of dollars in recent years — can mask a rising cost of benefits for executives.”
  • “Executive pensions, even when they won’t be paid until years from now, drag down the earnings today. And they do so in a way that’s disproportionate to their size, because they aren’t funded with dedicated assets.”

It seems to me that we’ve seen enough evidence over the years that the capitalist system is not going to be destroyed by an outside challenger like communism — it will be destroyed by its own internal greed. Greed is the greatest danger as we develop an increasingly winner-take-all system. And voices like The Wall Street Journal’s editorial page encourage this mentality by insisting that any form of regulation is bad. But for whom?

It is so discouraging to watch this country become less and less fair — “justice for all” seems like an embarrassingly archaic tag. Republicans have rigged the “lottery of life” in this country in ways we don’t even know about yet. The new bankruptcy law is unfair, and the new college loan rules are worse. The system has been stacked so that large corporations have an inside track over small businesses in getting government contracts. We won’t see the full consequences of this mean and careless legislation for years, but it is starting to affect us already.

The First Geek Dinner

Filed under: Civic Blogging,New Orleans — Tags: , — Morwen Madrigal @ 1:45 am

Well, we had the first Geek Dinner last night at Alan’s place (Three cheers for Alan!). Many folks showed, and I’m sorry I didn’t get to meet all of them. Maybe next time…
There will be a next time.
Unfortunately the wine from Stormhoek didn’t arrive in time for the party, but staunch advocates of fermented beverages made sure that all were supplied. The food was very good, varied, and thank goodness, fresh. All kinds of food filled the table, and if you didn’t sample each dish, you missed out on some great food.
It was just so very nice to meet the folks I have been reading and dealing with over the many months post-Deluge. We talked about our lives, troubles, Blogs and the rebuilding situation. Some talked of the Future to come. In all of this I saw a love of place that is very hard to find anyplace else.

For almost four decades I roamed this planet. Dorothy was right: “I want to go home”. I’m home, and this place is filled with the most interesting folks. It’s like I died and went to heaven.

So… when is the next gathering of the tribe? Hmmmm……..

We are New Orleanians. This is our place in the World, our home.

All of this reminded me of family gatherings decades ago here: I guess, in a way, we are now family, and family of the heart is so special. We share several commonalities, the least is love of our city and what we, as individuals, are doing to help Her and our fellow citizens. As Dangerblond puts it, “We are building from the ground up, not from the top down“.

July 15, 2006

Why can’t they get the story straight?

Filed under: Corps of Engineers,FEMA,Levees,Louisiana,New Orleans — Tags: , , , , — Morwen Madrigal @ 3:33 pm

Okay, I’m confused as I read this article in today’s T-P :

The Road Home program will provide residents up to $150,000 to rebuild or sell houses severely damaged by the storms. Using Community Development Block Grants overseen by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the program will pay homeowners for repair costs above what was covered by insurance policies, FEMA grants and Small Business Administration loans. But while the program allows up to $150,000 per homeowner in additional money, the total payout — insurance plus the grant — cannot exceed the home’s pre-Katrina value.

Now my understanding was that the Block Grants were just that, GRANTS. An SBA loan is a loan. I understand subtracting insurance proceeds and FEMA grants from the $150K, but to deduct the amount of an SBA loan? This is a concept concocted by, as I see it, delusional minds.

So, Betty went to the State’s Road Home site to look at the FAQs. On page 8 we found the pertinant question:

How does receiving an SBA loan affect the amount affect the amount of assistance I will receive?

What you receive from the SBA has no impact on the value of assistance you receive from The Road Home. Based on your SBA loan agreement, however, assistance you receive from The Road Home may be required to be used to repay any SBA loans.

This makes perfect sense, but why am I reading something different in the T-P? This is exactly the problem that all of us have here in SE Louisiana: bad freakin’ data! This is so unfair considering all that each of us is going through post-Deluge. We have been waiting for months for this first phase of reparations to be distributed, and now we cannot get accurate information. This cannot stand.

New Orleanians need an accurate database. The City’s is worthless, and so is the State’s. We cannot rely on what our paper reports to us. What is needed is an outside source.

And we still need to obtain the rest of the reparations our citizens deserve for the wrong decisions of the ACOE and the Guvmit, period! Justice for New Orleans!

Sinn Fein!


July 14, 2006

But we knew this! FEMA scorecard for July 2006

Filed under: FEMA,New Orleans — Tags: , — Morwen Madrigal @ 3:06 pm

This is from the current issue of Mother Jones. (Seems like they aren’t too impressed by the Guvmit’s “progress” here in New Orleans.):

Still Cleaning Up After Katrina
Still doing a heckuva job for Katrina victims

July/August 2006 Issue

205,000 houses were severely damaged by last year’s Gulf Coast hurricanes. As of May, 60% remained unoccupied.

Displaced families have moved an average of 3.5 times since the storms.

In March, the New York Times found that more than 1 in 10 New Orleans evacuees were homeless or had no permanent place to live.

Fewer than 35% of New Orleans’ 462,000 residents had returned to the city as of March. Only half are expected to return by September 2008.

State Farm and Allstate will no longer sell homeowners insurance in New Orleans.

Eight months after Katrina, fewer than 1 in 10 New Orleans businesses had reopened.

The Small Business Administration has rejected nearly 70% of the 2.4 million loan applications received from hurricane victims.

36 countries and international organizations donated $126 million to federal rebuilding efforts, half of which remained undistributed six months after Katrina.

FEMA spent $431 million on 11,000 trailer homes that were never used, $3 million for 4,000 unused cots, and $10 million to fix up 240 rooms in Alabama that housed only six people.

Carnival Cruise Lines got a six-month, $236 million contract to house evacuees on three of its ships, which sat half empty off the Gulf Coast for weeks.

The GAO found that there was insufficient oversight on 13 reconstruction contracts, including $100 million to Bechtel.

Experts predict there is a nearly 50% chance that a Category 3 or greater hurricane will hit the Gulf Coast this season.

On a scale of 1 to 10, FEMA director R. David Paulison gave the agency an 8 in terms of preparedness for this year’s hurricane season.

More than 100,000 families in Louisiana and Mississippi live in FEMA trailers that Paulison said “should not, or could not, ride out even a Category 1 storm.”


A Politics of the Common Good

Filed under: New Orleans,Progressive News — Tags: , — Morwen Madrigal @ 7:35 am

This has been a long time coming, but I think it’s the way of the Future, (and it’s from Common Dreams.Org):

A Politics  of the Common Good 


First Draft- The Arabs “Get” New Orleans

Filed under: New Orleans — Tags: — Morwen Madrigal @ 2:03 am

Scout Prime over at First Draft wrote a wonderful piece today about New Orleans, idealism and the Common Good. Here’s a snippet:

“There are many crappy things in our history but it is our ideals that propel us forward. It is the best of what we are. If we lose New Orleans I believe we lose that. If we don’t respect our history and culture, if we won’t fight and sacrifice for it, if we do not seek justice for the Gulf Coast we will have lost our connections to our ideals, our community, our country. We will not be the great nation but a rudderless collection of consumers, gobbling up and disposing anything that no longer glimmers and shimmers enough to hold our attention.” 


July 12, 2006

Our Duty to the People of the Gulf Coast

Filed under: Louisiana,New Orleans — Tags: , — Morwen Madrigal @ 10:55 pm

Here’s to opening of a great Blog post by Sen. Russ Feingold (via the Huffington Post):

Our Duty to the People of the Gulf Coast

After Banda Aceh in Indonesia was devastated by a horrific tsunami in 2004, the people there faced the challenge of rebuilding and restarting their lives. That is the same challenge that people on the Gulf Coast are facing today. I visited Banda Aceh earlier this year on a trip to Indonesia, and earlier this week I visited some of the neighborhoods ravaged by Hurricane Katrina.

I was struck by what the people in Banda Aceh and New Orleans had in common, both because of what they went through, and because of the incredible resilience they have shown in the wake of those tragedies. But I was just as struck by how those places differed – especially how, in many ways, New Orleans seemed worse off than Banda Aceh did a year after the disaster.

When I visited Banda Aceh in February 2006 – a little over a year after the original tsunami hit – though many of the reconstruction programs had yet to be completed, there was visible progress being made, thanks in large part to the generosity of the American taxpayer. I saw homes, roads, buildings, and bridges being built with funds that the American government generously gave to the victims of the tsunami…”


Corps facing lawsuit over MR-GO

Filed under: Corps of Engineers,Levees,Louisiana,New Orleans — Tags: , , , — Morwen Madrigal @ 5:19 pm

So, the folks in St. Bernard are taking the Corps to court:

Lawsuit aims to force closure of MR-GO

Eight residents of St. Bernard Parish and New Orleans’ Ninth Ward, including two public officials, filed a class action lawsuit Wednesday aimed at forcing closure of the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet and to stop it from funneling floodwaters into their homes and business as it did Aug. 29 and during Hurricane Betsy in 1965.

Filed against the agency that built the waterway, the U.S.. Army Corps of Engineers, the lawsuit asks the court to appoint a special master and a panel of scientific experts to study the dangers posed by the channel and recommend ways to address them, including reviving now-destroyed wetlands that protected against storm surges before the waterway was built.

The suit alleges that the Corps has ignored federal and state laws requiring studies of the environmental effects of the MR-GO since before the channel was dug.”

Let’s see if this sort of thing can help our side if the Industrial Canal, especially considering the stuffs going down in Boston.


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