"The central doctrine of Christianity, then, is not that God is a bastard. It is, in the words of the late Dominican theologian Herbert McCabe, that if you don’t love you’re dead, and if you do, they’ll kill you."--Terry Eagleton

"...doesn't philosophy amount to the sum of all thinkable and unthinkable errors, ceaselessly repeated?"--Jean-Luc Marion

“The opposite of poverty is not wealth; the opposite of poverty is justice."--Bryan Stevenson

Sunday, September 03, 2017

Unhinged Rant about Harvey

Fuck you, AP.  I've seen three different websites now start the story about Trump coming to Houston with the idea Trump has "returned" to Houston, and I know that stupid mistake started with you.  It wasn't a week ago everyone was complaining how Trump had never tried to visit Houston, and now he's visited twice?  Because why, it's all Texas and who gives a shit anyway?

And fuck you, Mr. President, for insisting the "recovery" is well underway.  You were in a football stadium turned into a shelter for 10,000 people, handing them hot dogs because they cannot cook for themselves or feed themselves a hot meal, and you call that "recovery"?  What kind of amoral blind stupid idiot are you?  There are parts of town where "recovery" means they've started stripping out the sheetrock and the wood floors and the carpet and padding, and piling ruined furniture and major appliances on the street.  It may take the city weeks just to pick up the trash.  There are parts of town still underwater, and likely to be underwater for 6 more weeks at least.  "Recovery" for them will begin when the bulldozers clear off, leaving scraped ground behind.  There are people from apartments who won't return to them because they will be uninhabitable, and the fight over who owes money on the lease will begin in earnest and drag on for years.  And where will they live in the meantime?  FEMA trailers that aren't here yet?

More and more I see the difference between Houston and New Orleans is that Houston is not seen as primarily black and poor and inaccessible when the floods come.  No police are standing on the roads and bridges out of town telling the poor blacks to get back into that hell, because they ain't bringin' it here.  This is a lesson in institutional racism that many, many people will ignore.  We're doomed to repeat this history over and over and over again, because the only parts of the Gulf Coast that really matter are Florida and Houston.  Hearing anything about Rockport, or Beaumont, or Victoria?  No, but the POTUS came to Houston, finally, and before that he stayed high and dry away from people in Corpus Christi, then skedaddled to Austin, in the middle of the state, as far from floodwaters as you can get in Texas and still see 'em.  Except AP has everyone saying he came to this city twice, because "Texas" and who gives a shit about Texas geography anyway?

So fuck that shit about "comforting words."  75 schools in one of the largest school districts in the country are closed for the foreseeable future.  People are still being found in houses now draining of flood water; other houses won't drain for weeks, what will we find there?  You want everything to be normal and to be comforted by your President because the sight of all this upsets you?  Fuck you.  We don't have any need of your need to be comforted right now.  Helicopters are still criss-crossing the skies above my neighborhood, everything from small ones that look like traffic copters, to the big two rotor jobs meant to carry a lot of something.  The recovery hasn't started yet, we're still coping with the disaster.  "Comforting words"!  Fuck those "comforting words."  The only person Trump comforted was himself.

Shit is real down here.  Property values are going to plummet, which means city revenues will plummet, school revenues will plummet, county revenues will plummet, people will be dislocated for months, maybe years.  The neighborhoods being flooded right now will be razed in two months.  People lived there for the school district and the good neighborhoods, and now the flood control plan designed to save the city of Houston from flooding is flooding the city of Houston, and those neighborhoods are not fit for frogs and alligators.  People who never bothered with flood insurance have lost everything, and recovery is gonna be on their dime.  FEMA will help?  Tell that to the people of New Jersey.  How many renters had flood insurance?   How many have lost everything, and how will they recover?   Yeah, it's "beautiful."  Yeah, there's a "lot of love."  Yeah, we've heard "comforting words."  Fuck 'em.  We've got shit to deal with, literally.  Reports are the e. coli count in the floodwaters are so far above normal the water was toxic. Incidents of illness and disease may soon run rampant, just because people waded through that water to get out of their homes, just because volunteers got in that water to rescue strangers.  "Comforting words"?  How stupid are you?

"Comforting words" are fit only for the people who parachute in to see the destruction, then need something to make them feel better about what they're seeing, and who it's being done to.  This story is literally so big no one can wrap their head around it.  So they'll stop trying to, and instead they'll tell themselves it's gone away, and everything is going to be fine.

New Orleans is not really the same city it was, after Katrina.  Houston will not be the same after Harvey.  These things we can live with.  And to the national press and the journalists who don't live here, and to the President, I say:  if you can't get the story right, don't bother at all.  We've got enough to deal with without bearing the burdens of your self-concern.  If you can't accept that "disaster" means bad things happen to good people, and that recovery is not the same thing as "it never happened" or "it didn't really matter," then we have no use for you down here.

This is real life.  This is reality.  This is, in fact, the consequences of ignoring reality, of thinking the free market knows best, that engineering will save us even when we ignore it and live in defiance of it, that everything is taken care of in this best of all possible worlds because "invisible hand"!  The Dutch plan for 10,000 year floods; much of Europe builds to a 1000 year flood standard.  We've had two 500 year floods in a row before this, and it didn't even teach us to be prepared for Harvey, because flood control doesn't increase property sales, it's not an engine of economic opportunity.  We don't even plan to a 100 year flood, and look where it got us.  We don't need comforting words about "recovery."  We need the truth about what we've done to ourselves and what we can do about it.

If you can't handle the truth, then get out of the way.  We've got a recovery to get started on.  And it's gonna take years, and if we do it right, it's gonna reshape this city.


Blogger June Butler said...

Excellent and righteous rant, Rmj. I understand you can't cover everything about a disaster of this magnitude in one rant, but I thought of the number of people who have lost their jobs, some of which will be lost forever. How will they recover? I could go on.

2:07 PM  
Blogger Eric Funston said...

Spot on! I have a relative who lives in Houston. She is clergy trying to make sense of the mess and help others make sense of life and her regular reports make it clear that, as you say, this shit is real and the disaster-tourists like the alleged president and his spouse just don't get it. So rant away; it's healthy to do so.

2:43 PM  
Blogger June Butler said...

Another thought: I doubt there will be a recovery in Texas without help from Mexicans and Latinos from Central American countries. Where I live, when we were recovering from damages that were not nearly as bad as New Orleans or cities in Texas, every roofing replacement or repair job was done by Mexicans or Latinos. God bless them, for replacing our roof.

5:02 PM  
Blogger Rmj said...

Houston is one of the most ethnically diverse cities in the country, per the Census Bureau. That will serve us in good stead in the future that is coming.

6:46 PM  
Blogger Fran Malone said...

Heard an ad on the radio that said: Houston will be open for business on Tuesday - so employers open your doors and employees show up.............. I am not sure what that person was smoking but he surely wasn't sharing...

2:55 PM  
Blogger Rmj said...

One school district can't open because half its families are still underwater. Another is closed for two more weeks due to damage. Maybe downtown is open, but most of us are still wondering what day it is and when major roads are going to reopen.

6:33 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

And this is barely the beginning. As the cons' plans to unravel the protections that took laborious decades to put in place, pursuing their all-white homeland nightmare, such disasters will increase in frequency and severity.

12:29 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I live in New Zealand where yesterday was the seventh anniversary of the first of a string of large earthquakes. Here EVERYONE who owns a house has earthquake damage insurance for it. It's a national program. But there are people who still haven't even started getting repairs because the earthquake insurance estimates of damages are so ridiculously wrong. Anything over $100k is dealt with by private insurance but the public assessment will be for something far below that, so even when private insurance is willing to foot the bill to rebuild a house entirely (minus the $100k) they can't without convincing them to agree that there's more than $100k damage. Now it's been so long that the public assessments are saying "this damage isn't from the earthquakes, it's from you not maintaining your house", when people have been waiting on them to be able to do repairs because if they just do the repairs they'll be out of pocket so they can't use their whole house, let alone keep it warm in winter. It's a complete nightmare. And just like Houston, there was so little forward planning. Councils have been giving building consents for land that's got high water tables, so it floods easily and in an earthquake it liquifies and everything sinks. We have building standards for earthquakes, but not great ones and a lot of buildings didn't meet them. The whole city (which is, btw, the second biggest in the country) is built on drained swamp land that Maori always knew was prone to earthquakes and were ignored. And the central government's been cutting mental health funding since before it happened, too. There are kids in school now who've lived their whole lives in a disaster zone and have no idea what a properly functioning city looks like.

So basically... I hear you. The clean up from Houston will be far worse than it was here, logistically. It's really hard watching so many places suffer these disasters that government just hasn't prepared for on a systemic level and know that it's so many more people who'll be going through the same or worse than what's happened here. A complete failure on behalf of government towards vulnerable people.

2:00 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Thank you for a most excellent rant!

11:56 AM  
Blogger JACKIESUE said...

you are correct on all accounts..the coast of texas will never be the same and since he is going to tie in our recovery money with that fucking wall..the people may never get it..or end of living in those death trap fema trailers..makes me weep..makes me angry..makes me crazy.

11:59 AM  
Blogger wibble said...

*holds up lighter*

11:59 AM  
Blogger JACKIESUE said...

I'm yellowdog granny..sent here by Wibble..glad she did.

11:59 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Hello -
I saw a reference to this somewhere else and just came on to say "thanks".

Pat Padrnos

3:29 PM  
Blogger wesleystubbssandel said...

You think that the debris on the street will be cleaned "in a few weeks"? Good luck with that.

I'd describe what happened after Katrina as an ethnic cleansing.

7:32 PM  
Blogger Ed said...

What does "thinking the free market knows best" have anything to do with Harvey & Houston?

7:37 PM  
Blogger Rmj said...

Flood control; or more accurately, the lack thereof. Tends to interfere with development, which interferes with money, which is heresy, when the market is a great green god.

7:47 PM  
Blogger JR Helton said...

Right on man. I'm from Houston. Fuck Donald Trump. It's all about him, always. He is a spoiled brat moronic rich kid pathological narcissist who does not really give one shit about Houston or even this entire country. The jackass literally just said "Have a good time!" to people in shelters, repeatedly. It's on video.

7:55 PM  
Blogger Morgan said...

Your rant is outstanding. I am so sorry for you and all parts of Texas hit so hard.
I still can't believe when a chemical factory was breaking down and giving oh fumes, the owning company would not disclose the chemicals to people who owned houses on the neighborhood.

9:34 PM  
Blogger MAK said...

Thank you!

7:47 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

John from Rockport, sitting in San Antonio, wondering what the FEMA inspector was smoking. Denied housing assistance because the apartment is "habitable." What about the water damage and the mold that is already colonizing the carpet and sheetrock? The fact that there's no water or electricity? The heat indices in the upper 90s?

How about this? The apartment complex has not decided the fate of our building. We can't rip out the carpet and sheet rock because it's a freaking apartment. We don't own it. But FEMA says it's habitable.

We will appeal the decision. Was FEMA stalling for time to get funding? I feel like I'm getting scammed by my own government. I will gladly let the FEMA administrator use the apartment to live in. But no improvements beyond what we would be able to afford. Let's see how "habitable" it is then.

On a positive note, we are alive and safe. We have renters' insurance which will cover a portion of our losses. We didn't have to be rescued.

Sorry for the rant, which pales in comparison to yours. Preach, brother!

5:52 PM  
Blogger marthasway said...

This is Truth with all its filthy slimy stench .

6:04 PM  
Blogger Rmj said...

Glad you're alive, and sorry FEMA is screwing you. You'd think they'd be more concerned with helping and less concerned with denying. I hope it gets better for you.

9:51 PM  

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